By the time the FBI raided Good Decisions Sober Home at Green Terrace Condominiums in September 2014, the clubhouse served as a storage room for urine collection cups and the common areas were littered with cigarette butts, small canisters of laughing gas and the occasional used condom.
These were just a few of the unsettling sights that became common for condo owners who watched their community become an armed camp, with black-shirted security officers patrolling 24 hours a day, making sure addicts didn’t leave and residents minded their own business.
At the center of the conversion of Green Terrace from a middle-class complex for families and retirees to an armed camp for recovering addicts stood Ken Bailynson, 43, a hot-headed certified public accountant from New Jersey, who in a few short years developed a thriving sober home business, which he shut down on the advice of his attorney after the FBI raid.
The daily flow of recovering addicts may be gone, but Bailynson and the armed guards are still a constant presence as he takes over a majority of the community’s 84 condos and its board of directors. Bailynson would not answer questions for this story. No one has been charged.
“Before he came, this was a community,” said Julio Flores, who lived at Green Terrace with his wife and daughter. His in-laws also lived in the complex and an elderly neighbor baby-sat Flores’ daughter.
Then the addicts moved in.
Drugs, burglaries, shooting
Owners who attempted to sit outside and have a beer were reminded that they were now living in a sober community. An owner, mistaken for a sober home resident, was told by security that Good Decisions did not allow residents to have pets. At night, guards and staff assumed the owners were addicts and ordered them back to their units.
Angela Ciriello watched in frustration as her 64-year-old mother, wheelchair-bound with a broken leg, feared leaving her apartment at night because addicts threatened to beat her for her pain medication.
Between June 2013 and the FBI raid, West Palm Beach police made 382 visits to Good Decisions. Among the complaints: loud music, stolen vehicles, burglaries, robberies, drugs, drunkenness, loitering and a drive-by shooting that put a bullet through a bedroom window where five women were sleeping or watching television.
Flores and Bailynson occasionally had arguments, including one that ended with Bailynson showing a handgun. Bailynson told police that Flores would not back off after they argued about parking and he showed Flores his gun to protect himself.
“I knew something wasn’t right,” Flores said.
Flat screens and a hot dog cart
Green Terrace does not fit the image of the typical Florida condo complex. There is no golf course or tennis courts. The pool is small and there are more weeds than grass in the common areas. It sits behind a Family Dollar store and a McDonald’s east of Interstate 95 on Georgia Avenue just south of Belvedere Road.
It was built in the 1970s, and its owners had long ago decided to forego improvements and upkeep. Bailynson bought his first unit in June 2011 for $7,000. He opened Good Decisions in March 2013 with five units.
While the outside of the properties looked shabby, the interiors were adorned with new kitchen cabinets and countertops, fresh paint and flat-screen televisions. Vending machines were installed and a hot-dog cart occasionally trolled the grounds.
At first, residents said Bailynson was quiet. As he bought more units, he occasionally burst into fits of rage, shouting profanities and barking orders to staff and residents, according to current and former owners.
“He loses a lot of employees because of his temper,” his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Krystal Giordano, said. “He thinks he’s always right.” One of Bailynson’s profanity-laden tirades at Good Decisions made its way onto YouTube. He and a family living at Green Terrace had been in a dispute when he unleashed a barrage of insults at one family member and disregarded advice to calm down.
“Who gives a s—,” Bailynson said. “This is the United States of F—-ing America. If I want to call her a nappy whore, I’ll call her a nappy whore. I’ll call her a nappy f—-ing whore. It’s the United F—-ing States. Because you’re a f—-ing crack bitch.”
Today, Bailynson owns 38 units. He became president of the condo association in January 2014 and controlled a board majority by giving condos, and board seats, to three trusted employees. He was known among residents for driving expensive cars, including a Bentley.
The board voted the condo’s owners into debt — owed to a company created by Bailynson. His Bok Lending II charged 24 percent interest on a $1.5 million loan to make badly needed improvements. The result: a monthly assessment that easily reached thousands of dollars a month and that would quickly dwarf the value of apartments that sold for less than $20,000.
FBI moves in
Good Decisions became the first of two sober home communities raided last year by an FBI task force investigating allegations of insurance fraud, patient brokering and kickbacks in Palm Beach County’s $1 billion drug treatment industry. No charges have been filed.
Within days of the September 2014 FBI raid, Bailynson hosted a barbecue and tearfully told Good Decisions residents they would have to leave. Many of the estimated 125 residents moved out within days. Ciriello said some asked her for a ride to the airport. By Oct. 6, the place was eerily empty, she said. Shoes were lined up outside doors and electronic food stamp cards were cut up and strewn on the ground.
When asked for an interview for this story, Bailynson got into the face of a reporter and screamed profanities. Through his lawyer, he declined additional opportunities to comment.
However, his girlfriend Giordano, who had lived at Bailynson’s home on weekends, agreed to an interview. Afterward, Bailynson kicked her out of his house, she said.
His motives to help people become sober were genuine, she insisted.
“Everything in the sober house was on the up and up,” said Giordano, who has battled her own drug problems. “He was out for the best interest of the clients.”
A former employee who did not want to be identified said Bailynson was businesslike with her, although she witnessed outbursts.
And a former resident, still clean and sober, said he had no complaints about his time at Good Decisions. “He helped me out in every way,” the former resident said. “I really have nothing bad to say about him.”
The Puzzle Guy
The CPA loves puzzles, numbers and high-stakes games.
Nearly every post on his Facebook page shows hundreds of moves he’s made at all hours of the day in a game called Criminal Minds.
At the Palm Beach Kennel Club, where he has played poker, another player heard Bailynson boast about having not been charged after the FBI raid. He has played in World Series of Poker events in Las Vegas.
In 2005, he promised to give his five-bedroom, four-bath home in Terracina — a gated community off Jog Road in suburban West Palm Beach — to anyone who could solve a book of puzzles he published at WinMyWPBHome.com. In addition to the 4,820-square-foot home, which Bailynson purchased that year for $525,258, other prizes included a seat in the World Series of Poker.
To win, the player had to successfully complete all 12 puzzles to “determine the exact location of a buried set of keys that open the front door to their new dream home and a cash prize of up to $2.5 million.” With Giordano as his marketing agent, the couple hoped to sell 1.2 million copies of the book at $29.99 each.
“There has never been a treasure as big as ours,” Bailynson wrote on a puzzle website on Jan. 18, 2006. “So go to KenThePuzzleGuy.com and be a part of what is the worlds largest prize puzzle book.”
They awarded $10,000 to an attorney in Atlanta, but no one could solve all the puzzles and the contest ended, Giordano said.
Police calls and pizza delivery
Police have been called to Bailynson’s home at Terracina 35 times since August 2005.
Bailynson’s girlfriend called the sheriff’s office in April 2007, complaining that Bailynson had turned off the power to the air conditioner. Bailynson told deputies that he is the only one working and paying the bills.
In April 2008, Bailynson wanted deputies to write a report about harassing phone calls he said he received after he refused to accept delivery of a pizza that was 15 minutes late.
In another pizza-related visit, Bailynson summoned deputies after the development’s security guard refused to allow his pizza to be delivered. The association prohibited Bailynson from having deliveries or visitors because it said he was late paying his fees.
Deputies also were called after Bailynson pulled out a Taser in front of a neighbor, whom Bailynson said hit him during an argument about Giordano’s dogs defecating on the neighbor’s lawn.
Billing firm alleges assault
Three weeks before the FBI raid, Bailynson agreed to pay $16,500 to settle a lawsuit with MedPro, the billing company Bailynson hired to file insurance claims for residents of Good Decisions. MedPro had sued him for money it said he owed it and for assault.
According to the lawsuit, when two female executives met with Bailynson about his outstanding balance, Bailynson “screamed obscenities and slammed his hands on the conference table … made verbal and physical threats.”
Two of Bailynson’s employees “had to physically intervene to prevent Bailynson from physically injuring” the MedPro officials, the lawsuit says. In his countercomplaint, Bailynson denied the assault allegations and accused MedPro of “failing to submit proper claims to insurance companies,” which cost Good Decisions hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Because of the alleged errors, Cigna stopped paying claims and UnitedHealthcare audited Good Decisions. Cigna has since stopped offering some Florida policies, citing insurance fraud in South Florida’s substance abuse treatment industry.
Some insurance companies garnished payments to Bailynson to “offset the amount they claim (Good Decisions) owes them for the ‘overpayments,’” according to the lawsuit.
In December, Nue Medical, a Georgia company that leased Good Decisions laboratory equipment along with technical support, filed a lawsuit claiming that Good Decisions had missed its monthly payment of $85,791. The highly technical lab equipment enabled Bailynson’s off-site lab on Military Trail to bill for complex urine tests. The more complex the test, the more money insurance companies paid.
How much Bailynson made from urine tests isn’t publicly known. But other sober homes with labs have billed more than $5,500 for a battery of complex tests and required residents to be tested several times a week. Insurance companies are now considering cracking down on paying for the complex tests, especially when the initial test is negative.
Giordano said she once questioned Bailynson about the business. “Do you realize how much money the insurance companies are paying me?” Giordano recalled Bailynson saying.
On March 10, Bailynson settled the lawsuit with Nue Medical. Terms were confidential.
Buckets of urine cups
Urine tests reap the biggest profits in the addiction treatment industry — tens of millions of dollars in this county alone — and insurance companies complain that fraud is rampant. Several years ago, the companies stopped reimbursing for urine tests performed at sober homes, claiming the homes are rental housing and not medical facilities. Tests at sober homes are used to decide merely whether a recovering addict has violated the rental agreement by using drugs or alcohol.
The companies would reimburse only the costs of complex urinalysis deemed medically necessary by a physician. The urine sample has to be collected at a medical facility.
But Ciriello said that before the FBI raided Green Terrace she saw employees carrying 5-gallon buckets containing collection cups filled with urine from the clubhouse. Early in the morning, a car would pick up the buckets.
“Everything was so hush-hush,” Ciriello said. “We were told it was not our concern.”
Used-car dealership: the next venture
Shortly after the FBI raid, with Good Decisions closed, Bailynson opened two used-car dealerships. Still, he dominates the Green Terrace board and continues to acquire units. One board member is renting a unit to six recovering addicts.
As for what Bailynson plans to do with the complex, he won’t say, and the debt-burdened owners at Green Terrace have heard nothing.
“I have no idea,” said Angie Jimenez, who manages her aunt’s condo. “But this man always has something up his sleeve.”
Staff writer Pat Beall contributed to this story.