Chaos Hits Hollywood Rehab Center After THR Investigation

Beleaguered One80 Center’s investors attempt to remove its leaders, who call the action against them a "coup," while the LAPD revisits two on-site fatalities.

On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter published an extensive investigation exposing questionable care practices at A-list Hollywood rehab One80 Center. A day later, in light of the story’s dramatic revelations, the facility’s investors attempted to remove CEO Alex Shohet and his wife, clinical director Bernadine Fried, and dismiss roughly 20 of its 60 employees.

Meanwhile, the LAPD has revealed to THR that, after reviewing the article, it is taking another look at the circumstances surrounding two One80 client fatalities that had been deemed accidental deaths. “We’ll see if there’s any major dereliction that could lead to something criminally,” says Detective John Skaggs of the West Bureau Homicide division.

THR INVESTIGATION: 2 Deaths at an A-List Hollywood Rehab

On Thursday morning, One80’s lead investor Edward Kislinger arrived accompanied by an attorney and several replacement staffers at the facility’s Summitridge Drive headquarters in Beverly Hills, near the Franklin Canyon reservoir. He informed the staff that Shohet and Fried had been deposed, effectively immediately, and that he had been appointed as interim CEO. A replacement clinical director, tech supervisor and CFO also were named. Shohet soon arrived – running past two security guards installed by the investors specifically to thwart his entrance -- and refused to leave, saying that he couldn’t be fired.

A chaotic showdown ensued as the day progressed, according to sources. Kislinger sent an e-mail to the remaining One80 staff explaining that their laid-off counterparts were let go because “the company had been losing significant amounts of money and we needed this reduction in force to keep the doors open.” Twenty-three minutes later, Shohet, apparently already locked out of his own company e-mail, used a fellow staffer’s address to send his own missive, noting, “Eddie Kislinger has no authority over One80. Berni and I are still CEO and clinical director. Please do not listen to Eddie Kislinger or any of the people ‘claiming’ any authority.”

Law enforcement was called to the scene. The two parties heatedly argued over a proffered termination document that alleged insurance fraud, a litany of instances of willful misconduct involving internal financial matters and numerous examples of gross negligence, many of which were first enumerated in THR’s story. It was determined that the situation would need to be adjudicated in court, so the ousted staff remains in place for now as the investors plan to pursue legal action on Monday.

Shohet characterized the day’s events to THR as an attempted “coup,” noting that the investors “did not have the corporate authority” to sack them since “they acted without a board meeting or a board vote.” He added that they are now represented by an attorney, Olivier Taillieu, who also serves as opposing counsel in an ongoing legal battle the couple has been waging for several years against a former business partner, Dr. Howard Samuels, owner of nearby treatment center The Hills, which also specializes in high-profile clientele. (The trio previously ran a facility known as Wonderland together at the site of The Hills.)

Fried, who describes Samuels as “our nemesis,” points out that several members of the newly announced team, including the named replacement clinical director, Bruce Turner, are employees of the rival facility. “I think it’s grossly unjust,” she tells THR. “With Howard’s team being involved, it’s a group of sober thugs.”

Reached for comment, Samuels fired back, rejecting the charge of a masterminded conspiracy or hostile takeover attempt: “I didn’t create the insanity that they are in. They did. I didn’t contact their partners at One80. They contacted me for help, because I’ve had to go through the same thing that they’ve now had to go through. That means dealing with the unprofessional care that [Shohet and Fried] give to clients.”

For their part, the several-member investor team, which includes Kislinger’s wife, top Hollywood jewelry designer Cathy Waterman, insists they are resolute in unseating Shohet and Fried out of abundant concern for client safety. “Having read the article,” says Kislinger, “we were horrified and felt like we had a moral and ethical obligation to act immediately, to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again.”

This termination document obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, which was presented by One80's investors to Shohet and Fried, outlines alleged insurance fraud, willful misconduct and gross negligence.

 

E-mail: Gary.Baum@THR.com

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