Meet Clayton White, a 44 year old man from Conway, SC. Before his surrender to police, he owned and operated as many as four treatment centers, over the course of three years, in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia, all under the name Oceanside Recovery Center. The purported substance abuse treatment facilities offered group therapy and group counseling sessions, and even prescribed and administered medication. The cost ranged from $3,300 to more than $7,000 for a 90-day treatment. In order to be legitimate, the facilities would have needed a sufficient staff to provide treatment according to regulatory standards. This calls for numerous degrees and certifications.
What was really going on at Oceanside Recovery.
According to an article published by Myhorrynews.com, a news source local to the incident, Clayton White “is not a licensed doctor, counselor or clinician, and has no medical degrees, clinical training or professional licenses or certifications.” This information came from a filing in a lawsuit against White, one of approximately 20 lawsuits brought against him.
Clayton White provided nothing to his clients, except shelter, food, and illegally prescribed medicine, which had no pattern of distribution. In fact, according to a North Myrtle Beach police report, multiple times “…the individual’s medication had either been short, used for another patient… or a note placed in their locker… stating that he has used it for some reasons but will replace it.”
Even worse, White exploited his clients at local flea markets and gatherings, having them sell counterfeit merchandise! As a result, clients suffered physical pain, weight gain/loss, muscle cramps, headaches, sleeplessness, paranoia, depression and exhaustion.
This is all on top of the severe monetary loss suffered from the hefty cost of “treatment.”
Clayton White stole money from addicts and their families, claiming to be a state-of-the-art recovery center, when in fact he exploited them for even more illegally-obtained money. If and when people confronted him about his false facility, he would either kick them out or close up shop and start over in a different state. In August of 2014, police raided Oceanside Recovery Center in North Myrtle Beach, SC. One month later, White surrendered, after six weeks on the run.
Here’s what happened once he got caught.
Nine charges were brought against White total, including unlawful practice of medicine, operating an unlicensed business, false representation as a therapist and as a counselor, and obtaining goods under false pretense. As mentioned, nearly 20 former clients of White’s filed lawsuits, many for financial restitution.
Clayton White was sentenced to four days in jail, plus time served, and only $1,000 in restitution. He denied all allegations except obtaining goods under false pretense. The reason he essentially got away with all this has to do with the social stigma attached to addiction and addicts. This may be the root of the problem.
Why the punishment was lenient
The judge presiding over the North Myrtle Beach case accepted the plea agreement with the aforementioned terms. Assistant Solicitor Grayson Ervin, who helped negotiate the plea, believes the judge agreed to it because he didn’t think he could prove the charges. Apparently the judge agreed that cases like these do not even get tried, due to the bias and prejudice surrounding addiction and addicts. Even Sandy Marselis, a plaintiff in one of the civil cases against White, agreed that a trial would have been very hard due to the stigma attached to addiction.
It is extremely unfortunate something like this could have happened, and even more unfortunate that the punishment for stealing money from and giving false hope to addicts could be so light. Please, if you plan on entering a treatment program, be sure the facility is fully trained, staffed, legal, and on your side, as the majority are.