May 29, 2009 in City

Health officials accuse 3 of buying fake degrees

By The Spokesman-Review

Search the U.S. Department of Justice database of diploma mill degree recipients.

A social worker and two counselors in the Puget Sound area have been accused of buying fake degrees from a Spokane diploma mill.

State health officials said Michael Strub, a licensed social worker, bought a doctor of philosophy in psychology diploma and transcript in March 2004. The materials came from “Hamilton University,” an online diploma mill.

Strub worked at Cornerstone Counseling Services in Puyallup, where Washington state Health Department investigators say he used his fake diploma to misrepresent his education and training to clients and insurance companies.

David Larson, a registered counselor and chemical dependency professional, is accused of buying a doctor of psychology degree in October 2002 from “St. Regis University.” Larson worked at Crossroads Treatment Centers in Tacoma and Parkland, and then went to Civigenics in Tacoma before retiring in October 2006. Agency and staff had referred to him as “Dr. Larson.”

Taylor Danard, a registered counselor, bought a bogus doctor of philosophy in psychology degree from St. Regis in January 2003. She referred to herself as a Ph.D. in her practice at Madison Park Counseling Center in Seattle. Investigators also accuse her of providing health department investigators with false information.

The three have 20 days to respond to charges.

They are listed on a database published online by The Spokesman-Review last year of people who bought bogus degrees from a Spokane-based operation that netted millions of dollars by selling more than 10,000 college degrees and high school diplomas around the world.

The diploma mill was engineered by Dixie Ellen Randock, who has been sentenced to three years in federal prison.

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