CRC had found what it thought was the perfect location, but now it needed a buyer. Never short on capital, CRC prefers to rent rather than buy property: lower overhead and initial investment, higher return. In Emery, it found the perfect landlord.
He was quickly convinced to purchase the property. The plan was simple. He would buy the building, remodel it to state standards, and get rent checks from CRC for $6600 a month for the next ten years.
It seemed like a win-win situation. CRC found a cheap way to set up shop in Maine and Emery found a treatment provider for his son, not to mention the substantial monthly rent check he was slated to receive. But Emery got more than he bargained for.
The Bain Capital-owned CRC Health Corporation first proposed a methadone clinic in a Warren schoolhouse.
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
"If I could have seen the future, I wouldn't have gotten so excited for them," Emery says. "I'm a developer, I've done this my whole life, [but] I wouldn't have purchased it. I would have got somebody else. I just was so excited for them because they were so excited. They said 'What can you do for us?' We had the tools, so I went forward."
Emery says that CRC wanted to begin the process in private before dealing with the anticipated local opposition. In a closed-door session, Warren selectmen were told that the building would be home to a methadone clinic.
When the plans did go public, Warren residents were in an uproar. They felt deceived and worried about the possible impacts of a high-volume methadone clinic, slated to serve 300 patients a day, on their rural community with a population under 5000.
Under pressure from local residents, the town quickly voided the sale of the building and enacted a six-month moratorium on methadone clinics. This knee-jerk reaction was Warren's attempt to buy time.
"This is a small town," says 20-year Warren resident Terry Walsh. "The selectmen are all volunteers. We have a garbage collector, a plumber, just regular people from the town, and I don't think they were any match for the lawyers and so on from CRC who came in. They were overwhelmed by the whole thing."
CRC responded by suing the town for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, a civil-rights law intended to prohibit discrimination based on disability. A common-sense-defying lawsuit (filed on CRC's behalf by a Florida attorney) claimed that the town was discriminating against the company "and its patients" — of whom there are none yet, at least in Maine — because the temporary moratorium specifically banned methadone clinics. The suit also claimed CRC would "suffer irreparable injury" if it were not allowed to open its business where it wanted to. Essentially, CRC was saying that its potential future patients were victims of discrimination that threatened the company's prospective profits, and asking a judge to overturn the ban.
THINLY VEILED THREATS
After mediation between CRC and the town of Warren, CRC agreed to hold off on the lawsuit if Warren would consider approving a different location for a clinic.
The threat of the lawsuit now loomed over the town and Emery became the fall guy.