This investigation exposed a local drug rehabilitation program for misrepresenting itself to thousands of vulnerable clients, probation officers, and courts around the country.
It began with our story of one patient’s death, and has already resulted in two ongoing criminal investigations, a search warrant, the program director's resignation, and the state taking action to revoke the program’s license to operate.
Our research has been utilized by news outlets in other media markets around the country, where branches of the Narconon program are now under similar scrutiny. News organizations in England and Germany have also reported on our findings, as there is an international component to the Narconon program as well.
Narconon of Georgia marketed itself to the public as a residential inpatient facility, though it is only licensed for outpatient care.
During our initial series, we interviewed the family of a patient who died after being court ordered into residential treatment. A former employee, who worked there at the time of the death, admitted altering the program’s letterhead to aid in the misrepresentation.
We filed numerous open records requests, and reviewed complaints and state inspection reports going back a decade. We questioned the state commissioner about deficiencies in the oversight process.
We also spoke with former Church of Scientology insiders about the church’s role in managing the program; one even told us the entire program was a scam to make millions of dollars and recruit vulnerable people into the church.
As a result of this reporting, the state opened a new investigation into the program. Inspectors utilized records we provided and ultimately cited the program for life threatening violations.
In December, the state filed notice of intent to revoke the facility's license.
In January, the program’s executive director and medical director both resigned, as we prepared our follow-up report alleging insurance fraud.
A patient’s insurance company was billed $166,000, even after her parents had already paid-in-full for the program. The doctors whose license numbers were on the bills told us they never provided drug treatment or therapy, and never authorized Narconon to bill for those services.
Georgia's Insurance Commissioner launched a separate criminal investigation as a result of our story.
In April, state fraud investigators and a local district attorney executed search warrants at the facility, hauling away all of its computers and financial and medical records. The search warrant application cited much of what we exposed in our reports, but expanded to include a sampling of four dozen families and three million dollars in alleged fraudulent billing.
In May, we exposed allegations from three additional families who allege Narconon opened unauthorized credit cards in their names to pay for the program. The District Attorney has already announced he will include those allegations in his pending criminal case.
In June, five families filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all current and former patients, alleging the whole program is a fraud, including its treatment methods, success rate, and business practices.
Several dozen families of current and former patients have reached out via email and calls to share their personal experiences with this program, and to offer additional leads for our investigation. We continue to pursue those leads to this day.
Narconon of Georgia is scheduled for its license revocation hearing in July.