PHOENIX - A man accused of being "involved in patient brokering of trafficked individuals" has been arrested.
Robert Kayongo was arrested on Wednesday. Aug. 30, the Arizona Attorney General's Office (AGO) announced.
"The AGO has also served a search warrant and will be helping to coordinate care for any individuals that had been in the care of the suspect," the agency said.
According to authorities, an investigation was launched into Kayongo after he approached an addiction treatment center in Chandler, telling the owners that he was housing "five patients" that he was willing to refer to them in exchange for "financials for the clients."
It ended in an argument and Kayongo being told to leave after the facility discovered his sober living home was unlicensed.
FOX 10's Justin Lum has covered the sober living scheme extensively, highlighting a statewide crackdown on unlicensed and fraudulent sober living homes taking advantage of Native Americans looking to get sober.
Oftentimes, the victims are convinced to cross state lines, giving them hope they'll get clean in Arizona. That's not always the case.
The state estimates these homes have cost nearly a billion dollars in taxpayer money as fraudsters bill Arizona's Medicaid agency for services often not provided.
How he was caught
An undercover agent with the Attorney General's office called Kayongo through a business card they obtained. Court documents state they pretended to be someone planning to open a behavioral health outpatient facility, and they needed patients.
After a series of phone calls and texts, Kayongo allegedly agreed to provide 8 to 10 patients to the agent at a price of $1,050 per patient per week.
"It should be noted, at no time did Kayongo discuss or inquire about [the undercover agent's] qualifications, capacity to deliver care, quality of care, types of course, or therapy of any kind that would be provided to the patients," court documents stated.
The agent arranged a meeting with the Ugandan man on Aug. 30, and he was arrested and questioned that same day.
A search of Kayongo's sober living home "Shared Love" in Chandler uncovered eight patients waiting inside. Some had just arrived or were transferred from a different sober living home.
The attorney general's office reported that the house was "unsanitary" and smelled of sewage. A makeshift room was found in the garage that consisted of a bed, TV, microwave and a nonfunctional A/C unit.
Find more coverage on the sober living investigations here.
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