Ousted Rehab Leaders Make Desperate Funding Plea For New Facility (Exclusive)

Illustration by: Jeremy Enecio

UPDATED: An associate of the embattled couple behind One80Center says they need $150,000 by Wednesday to reopen one of their former facilities

This story first appeared in the Oct. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Alex Shohet and his wife, Bernadine Fried, the embattled couple behind One80Center — the L.A. rehab that shuttered a year ago following a THR investigation into care practices that might have contributed to two deaths on its premises — have been attempting a second act in Laurel Canyon.

Also read THR Investigation: 2 Deaths at an A-List Hollywood Rehab

They floated a business plan to would-be investors to reopen one of their former facilities, the former Lookout Mountain Air Force Base on Wonderland Avenue. Neighbors have been critical of the facility's revival in recent months as a fledgling, unlicensed sober house (during which time a resident, Andrew Stern, tech entrepreneur and husband of Deal or No Deal model Katie Cleary, committed suicide).

Also see Hollywood Rehab: $90,000 a Month to Get Sober? Only in L.A.

Yet the noise and traffic may soon end. THR has obtained a desperately worded Sept. 29 email sent by Shohet's associate Jim Nelson in which he says $150,000 is needed to fund escrow on the property (on top of $50,000 "to cover our bills and operating expenses") by Oct. 15 or else its owner "has another buyer ready to go on the 16th." But Shohet tells THR: "Wonderland will continue. We will meet our deadline by the 15th."

Oct. 16, 12:15 p.m. update: Nelson has written to THR to clarify his association with the Wonderland property: "As an architect and builder, I have been restoring this wonderful historic place (Lookout Mountain Air Force Base) for the last 10 months. I am not Alex’s partner, employee or anything else but a volunteer who though it was a good cause. I have not been paid one penny and stand to lose all my savings that I put in to buy materials to fix the place up. My vision of the Base becoming a support center for the recovering community in the entertainment industry and a neighborhood asset is part of the collateral damage from the collapse of the sober living operation. I have done everything I could to help save the place but it’s been a tough go because of all the negative publicity that has been generated about Alex and Berni."