Attorney General Cuomo Brings His Government Consolidation Proposal To Rochester

ALBANY, N.Y. (February 13, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the guilty plea of a Saratoga Springs woman who 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. She pleaded guilty in Schenectady County Court to Unauthorized Practice (a Class E Felony) before the Hon. Karen A. Drago.

Geizer is scheduled for sentencing on March 27, 2009. The crime carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison. Geizer has agreed to make full restitution of her salary, approximately $226,000, to the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District.

“Capital Region families deserve and expect properly trained professionals working in their schools and interacting with their children,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “School employees who fake their credentials create the very real possibility that a child is forced to rely on services from an individual who is wholly unqualified.”

According to the court records, Geizer applied for employment in 1999 as a social worker with Community Human Services of Glenville, which provides social workers to the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District. Ms. Geizer 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 for the school districts to bill Medicaid for counseling services.

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 the State University of New York at Albany, as well as his New York State Education Department license, 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.

State Department of Education Commissioner Richard Mills said, “We thank Attorney General Cuomo for upholding the laws that apply to the safety of children in our schools and unlicensed professional practice. Fraud in our schools and professions cannot be tolerated.”

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Catherine Leahy Scott of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau.