Attorney General Cuomo Announces Arrest Of Unqualified Saratoga School Social Worker For Faking Credentials

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 10, 2008) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the arrest of a Saratoga Springs woman who allegedly lied about her educational and professional credentials in order to obtain employment with a school district as a social worker.

Maria Geizer, 38, of Grand Avenue in Saratoga Springs, worked as a social worker at the Charlton Heights Elementary School from 1999 to 2003 and later at the Richard O’Rourke Middle School from 2003 to 2007.

“Those who work in our educational system must meet the required criteria that the law has put in place,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “We trust educators and other school personnel to be qualified and trained in order to properly interact with our children. Any breach of that trust not only violates New York state law, it may deprive our children of the care and quality services to which they are entitled.”

According to the complaint, Geizer applied for employment in 1999 as a social worker with Community Human Services of Glenville, which contracts social workers to the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District. She falsely claimed on her employment application and resume that she held a master’s degree in psychology – a requirement to be a social worker. She also falsely claimed that she was licensed by the New York State Education Department – a requirement to bill Medicaid for counseling services.

The complaint alleges that in 2006, as a result of a random fraudulent-billing audit by the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General, Community Human Services and the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District requested copies of Geizer’s master’s degree and professional license. Geizer allegedly altered her spouse’s master’s degree certificate from State University of New York at Albany, as well as his New York State Education Department license to provide mental health counseling by removing his name and inserting her own.  She then presented these documents to Community Human Services and the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District as her own credentials.

Geizer was arraigned before Glenville Town Court Justice Richard H. Moran, Sr. on the charges of unauthorized practice (class E felony), grand larceny in the second degree (class C felony) and criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree (class D felony).

State Education Department Commissioner Richard Mills said, “Immediately upon learning of these allegations, we referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office to prosecute. I thank Attorney General Cuomo for once again vigorously pursuing a matter related to the safety of children in our schools.”

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Catherine Leahy Scott of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, under the Supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Richard Ernst and Bureau Chief Gail Heatherly.  The investigation was handled by Investigator Leslie Arp under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator David Adams.  The case was also investigated by investigators with the New York State Education Department's Office of Professional Discipline.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.