Crownsville Hospital Center chief forced out

August 17, 1994|By Michael James | Michael James,Sun Staff Writer

Embarrassed state officials, conceding that they had been taken in by a "con man," said last night that they have forced the resignation of the head of Crownsville Hospital Center after it was discovered he falsified his resume to include degrees he never earned.

Haroon R. Ansari, 33, who was chosen after a national search last year to oversee the 253-bed hospital and its $24 million budget, resigned Monday after being confronted with several "discrepancies" on his resume, said Robert W. Eastridge, deputy secretary of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Chief among those discrepancies was that Mr. Ansari did not hold a doctorate in educational psychology from Michigan State University, as he had claimed, Mr. Eastridge said. The superintendent, he said, resigned immediately after being confronted about the doctorate.

"This is embarrassing that this has happened at such a senior level," Mr. Eastridge said. "We've never had this happen at such a high level before. In all candor, he [Mr. Ansari] fooled a lot of people. He was a pretty good con man."

State officials checked with the university recently after Mr. Ansari made comments at staff meetings that "raised some eyebrows and raised suspicions that he didn't have the background he claimed to have," Mr. Eastridge said.

Crownsville Hospital Center primarily admits mentally ill patients from Anne Arundel, Charles, Calvert and St. Mary's counties. It is one of the largest of the 24 state hospitals.

State workers -- who hadn't followed proper procedures last summer when Mr. Ansari was hired from a field of 50 candidates -- found other discrepancies in the resume, Mr. Eastridge said. They were unable to confirm that he had earned a master's degree from Michigan State and a master's in public administration from Western Michigan University, he said.

Under state hiring practices, every new employee's credentials are to be checked. In the case of Mr. Ansari, the personnel office at Crownsville had the responsibility to check with the universities from which he claimed to have degrees.

Although he didn't have the credentials he claimed on his resume -- state officials did confirm Mr. Ansari had a bachelor's degree -- he did a satisfactory job running Crownsville, state officials said.

No management problems have been identified, and Mr. Ansari seemed to have a grasp of how to run the facility, officials said. "I don't want to be overly laudatory, but he did a satisfactory job. He could talk the lingo and I think he had had some significant experience. He just overstated it," Mr. Eastridge said.

Mr. Ansari was chosen for the $61,000-a-year job after being interviewed by Stuart B. Silver, the director of the state Mental Hygiene Administration.

Joan B. Gillece, a member of the search committee and executive assistant to Mr. Silver, said last July that she and other committee members were attracted to Mr. Ansari because of his diverse background and strong interest in the job.

State officials weren't the only ones who found him an attractive candidate. In an Aug. 25 editorial in The Sun, he was lauded as being "refreshingly honest" about the shortcomings of policies regarding missing patients.

Mr. Ansari was not at his Pasadena home when a reporter knocked on his door last night.

In an interview last year, he said that his previous job was as the chief executive officer and executive director of Englewood Health Services/Intake and Referral Centers Inc., a private, nonprofit organization based in Detroit.

Of his move to Maryland he said, "I wanted to relocate to an opportunity where I have challenges, where I can use my leadership to get involved with changing the system . . . Maryland is moving toward more community-based services. We have to do some serious networking with the community and other nonprofit organizations that provide mental health services."

State officials said they checked with Michigan officials and found further discrepancies.

"We weren't getting a 100 percent match on his work experience. But we didn't have to make an issue of that because as soon as he was asked about the doctorate, he chose not to debate it and chose to resign," Mr. Eastridge said.

The resignation letter that Mr. Ansari signed states that his last day is to be Aug. 29, although he was removed from administrative and clinical duties effective immediately, Mr. Eastridge said.

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