A Saratoga Springs man who falsely claimed to hold a doctorate in psychology has been ordered to pay $5,257 to Saratoga County.
Steven Feldman, 61, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing earlier this year.
He had conducted mental health evaluations for Saratoga County Family Court for five years before his arrest in 2010.
Feldman has a master’s degree and was a licensed mental health counselor, according to authorities. But he signed a contract with Saratoga County in 2009 listing himself as a psychologist with a doctoral degree.
Feldman’s doctoral degree was from a mail-order degree mill, not from an accredited college or university, the Saratoga County District Attorney’s office said at the time of Feldman’s arrest.
Saratoga County officials later recused themselves and the Clinton County District Attorney’s office prosecuted the case.
Clinton County Chief Assistant District Attorney Timothy G. Blatchley said Wednesday that Clinton County Judge Kevin K. Ryan sentenced Feldman to no jail time Oct. 7, but ordered him to pay $5,257 to Saratoga County.
“He said he was a psychologist, which he clearly was not,” Blatchley said. “He is a licensed mental health counselor.”
Saratoga County at first wanted $36,000 in restitution from Feldman for payments to him over a five-year period. The county later reduced its request to $10,000 because that is what it had paid Feldman in a contract from October 2009 until April 2010 under the false pretense that Feldman was a psychologist, said County Attorney Stephen M. Dorsey.
Dorsey said Blatchley recommended the county accept $5,257, keeping in mind that as part of the sentence Feldman also agreed to sign a waiver that he would not collect six pay vouchers from the county amounting to $3,800. Dorsey said this brings the restitution to nearly $10,000.
“I agreed to it,” he said.
The state Education Department licenses mental health counselors, and a felony conviction can often mean the state will revoke the license. This has not happened in the Feldman case.
Tom Dunn, a state Education Department spokesman, said a professional discipline case starts after a criminal case against an individual is completed.
“The professional discipline case will be based upon the criminal charges,” Dunn said. “The criminal proceedings come before the professional proceedings.”
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