Sobriety for Sale: Troubled treatment clinics in Washington State

In the midst of a drug epidemic, a KING 5 Investigation exposed misconduct at string of state-licensed alcohol and drug treatment clinics. 

In the midst of a drug epidemic, a KING 5 Investigation exposed misconduct at a string of state-licensed alcohol and drug treatment clinics.

Counselors were accused of soliciting cash bribes from addicted clients and falsifying attendance records and drug test results that they submit to local courts. The investigation also revealed serious shortcomings in the state agency that licenses and inspects Washington’s 570 licensed treatment centers.

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The investigation started with a cluster of troubled clinics in Pierce County, but KING 5 learned it is a statewide problem, also affecting a treatment center in Spokane.

Map: Troubled clinics profiled in Sobriety for Sale

View complete coverage of the state's troubled treatment clinics at the links below.

Records: Tacoma clinic subject of bribery, falsification allegations (March 8, 2016)

The Washington State Department of Health confirms that three counselors at A Change Counseling Services in Tacoma are under investigation. Clinic owner Clarence Farmer is John Dorman's father-in-law.

Courts bar Tacoma clinic after KING 5 report (March 30, 2016)

Inside A Change Counseling Services.

Tacoma drug counselors under investigation (April 22, 2016)

A Change Counseling Services owner Clarence Farmer (left) and former clinic counselor Kathy Dastrup were investigated by the State Dept. of Health.

Driver in fatal 2013 DUI was patient at troubled Tacoma clinic (May 12, 2016)

Morgan Fick Williams was driving to work across the 520 bridge on April 4, 2013, when she was hit by a wrong-way driver. Police arrested an intoxicated Michael Robertson and found a bottle of Fireball whiskey in the back seat of his crushed SUV.

Sobriety for sale: More clinics accused of fraud (May 26, 2016)

John Dorman’s three state-licensed treatment clinics -- Abracadabra in Spanaway, Doorway to Recovery in Lakewood, and A Change Counseling Renton -- have been scrutinized by state regulators.

Troubled treatment clinic shuts down (June 8, 2016)

A Brighter Tomorrow counseling services.

Judge warned state about Tacoma clinic in 2014 (June 24, 2016)

Bonney Lake Municipal Court Presiding Judge Ronald Heslop speaks with KING 5's Chris Ingalls about a 2014 complaint he made against A Change Counseling Services in Tacoma.

Treatment clinics could be targeted by new legislation (July 12, 2016)

State Rep. Noel Frame (D-Seattle) says she is considering legislation to improve oversight of substance abuse treatment clinics in Washington state.

Troubled Tacoma treatment clinic shuts down (Aug. 19, 2016)

A Change Counseling Services in Tacoma, Wash. (Credit: KING)

Lawyer has ties to 'Sobriety for Sale' treatment clinics (Oct. 18, 2016)

Documents and witness interviews reveal that attorney Barbara Bowden had close ties with five state-licensed clinics where counselors are accused of misconduct.

State went easy on troubled treatment clinic, records say (Nov. 4, 2016)

Lakeside Recovery Center in Spokane.

Treatment clinic owner charged by state (Jan. 12, 2017)

Washington bill targeting 'Sobriety for Sale' passes out of committee (Feb. 15, 2017)

House committee approves 'Sobriety for Sale' bill (Mar. 23, 2017)

Bill targeting troubled treatment clinics signed into law (May 16, 2017)

Governor Jay Inslee signs Senate Bill 5705 into law.  At Inslee's left is Jerry Esterly, whose girlfriend was killed by drunk driver in treatment at one of the clinics exposed in KING 5’s “Sobriety for Sale” investigations. Photo: Chris Ingalls.

Clinic inspectors say state agency foiled their investigations (May 16, 2017)

Inspectors from the DSHS Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery say they were removed from investigations of clinics where they believed corrupt practices were occurring.