A Lakewood clinic that was profiled in recent stories by the KING 5 Investigators has shut its doors.
A Brighter Tomorrow was “…unable to stay open”, clinic owner Lynette Velez said in a brief email to KING 5.
She wouldn’t explain why, but said “It had nothing to do with the State. There are many aspects of running a business besides all those things (that were) the focus of your investigation.”
A Brighter Tomorrow is one of five state certified drug and alcohol treatment clinics exposed by the KING 5 Investigators.
They all face accusations -- in state documents and from witnesses -- that counselors accepted bribes from clients who were ordered into treatment as part of their criminal sentences. The courts rely on licensed clinics to evaluate and treat offenders whose crimes are drug or alcohol related.
In its “Sobriety for Sale” investigations, KING 5 reported that counselors accepted money in exchange for submitting falsified records to the court. The “compliance” reports told judges that the offenders were in treatment. Records show that some offenders who were listed as “in compliance” did not attend treatment sessions at all. One offender wasn’t even in the country when he was supposed to be in treatment at a Tacoma clinic.
A Brighter Tomorrow was investigated last year by the Department of Social and Health Services Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR).
Records show that owners accused one counselor of stealing $100,000 in client billings. Owners and managers accused her accepting money from clients, but not actually treating them.
That counselor – Kathy Dastrup – left A Brighter Tomorrow last year in a dispute with the owners.
DSHS’s Division of Behavioral Health was called in to investigate after Dastrup left. Records show that DBHR substantiated the allegations.
Sources say that DBHR could not verify that two dozen of Dastrup’s patients at A Brighter Tomorrow had actually received treatment. Those patients were forced to re-enroll in treatment programs.
Dastrup has twice backed out of scheduled interviews with KING 5. However, she has said that some of the clinics that she has worked for in the past have made her a “scapegoat” for their problems.
Dastrup also worked for A Change Counseling in Tacoma and Abracadabra Recovery Center in Spanaway – two other clinics that KING 5 exposed in “Sobriety for Sale”.
In response to questions from KING 5, DSHS's Kelly Stowe said in an email that DBHR received a call from the clinic on Monday alerting the agency that they were shutting down because the owner "...had no resources to continue operating."
Stowe said that DBHR is filing a complaint with the WA Dept. of Health for unprofessional conduct because the abrupt nature of the closure violates Washington codes.
She said DSHS is helping move patients over to new treatment providers.
Stowe said DSHS is asking any clients who "...have been offered to pay for treatment that they don't really receive" to contact DBHR incident manager Steve Cazel at 360-725-3706 or CazelST@dshs.wa.gov.