Sovereign Health Strikes Back at Law Enforcement Officials 'Raid - Palm Springs News, Weather, Traffic, Breaking News

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Sovereign Health Strikes Back at Law Enforcement Officials 'Raid'

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Palm Desert, CA -

The CEO of Sovereign Health, operator of addiction-rehabilitation treatment centers in Palm Desert and two other locations raided Tuesday as part of an unspecified criminal investigation, today accused federal agents who took part in the operation of using strong-arm tactics, threatening company employees at gunpoint and frightening patients.

Federal agents served warrants at the Palm Desert facility at 39800 Portola Ave., as well as Sovereign Health's centers in San Clemente and Culver City, and the San Juan Capistrano home of CEO Tonmoy Sharma.

No arrests were made in the operation, which FBI spokedwoman Laura Eimiller said was conducted to search for evidence in connection with ``allegations of criminal activity.'' She said the search warrants and accompanying affidavits were under seal, and she could not comment on the nature of the investigation.

Story: Former Sovereign Health Patients Speak Out

In a statement released Thursday, Sovereign Health said the warrants were served ``for alleged financial and other irregularities,'' but blasted the methods of federal agents who conducted the raid, saying that authorities' ``actions seemed aimed more at harassment than enforcing the law.'' ``The way they executed these search warrants was a disgrace,'' Sharma said. ``All they had to do was tell our senior management what they needed and we would have gladly complied. We have nothing to hide. Instead, they burst into our facilities, upsetting patients who are already fragile and dealing with trauma. They threatened our unarmed staff at gunpoint. And they didn't even seem to know why they had busted into our facilities.''

Despite the warrants being served for financial purposes, agents ``bypassed our accounting and financial staff, and instead, trained weapons on employees who perform duties such as patient intake'' and also ``tried to break down the door of a room where a patient was receiving neurofeedback, scaring them to death,'' according to the company's statement.

Story: Former Sovereign Health Patient Says Company Made Empty Promises

It was the second time in the past six months that the company has had a run-in with armed agents from a government agency, according to Sovereign's
statement.

In January, an armed individual claiming to be from the California Department of Social Services ``stalked the grounds'' of the company's San Clemente facility, according to Sovereign. The company said it filed a formal complaint against the director of the agency's Community Care Licensing Division because the man refused to identify himself, nor the agency he worked for, which the company contends is illegal. Sovereign's CEO said the incident is currently being investigated by the agency's Internal Affairs investigation branch.

``We are not letting the retaliatory actions of jack-booted thugs get in the way of the important business of providing top-notch care for our patients with addiction and mental health issues,'' Sharma said. ``We know what is behind this pattern of harassment and strong-armed tactics. We will not be intimidated
and we will prevail.''

Sovereign Health provides mental health treatment and drug rehabilitation for patients 18 and older, according to the company's website. In addition to its California locations, the company has treatment centers in Arizona, Florida, Texas and Utah.?

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