State will sue to recoup ex-hospital head's salary

August 25, 1994|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Sun Staff Writer

The state will sue the former head of Crownsville Hospital Center, who faked his resume to get the job, to recoup his salary, Deputy Attorney General Ralph S. Tyler III said yesterday.

Mr. Tyler said a complaint against Haroon R. Ansari will be filed in Circuit Court within two weeks. "We will file a lawsuit based on fraud and breech of contract."

The civil suit against Mr. Ansari, who resigned last week when confronted with the false information on his resume, will seek $63,000 in damages, the amount paid the 33-year-old superintendent during his tenure at the psychiatric hospital.

A criminal investigation into Mr. Ansari is continuing, said Mr. Tyler. The attorney general also is pursuing a misdemeanor criminal charge for deception on a state application.

Meanwhile, Nelson J. Sabatini, state secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene, said he has tightened the policy on credentials checks and also will require criminal background checks for all employees. Currently, only employees at the department's headquarters are required to have criminal checks.

But despite errors by the people involved with hiring Mr. Ansari, Mr. Sabatini said he will not take disciplinary action against anyone.

"It's ultimately my embarrassment . . . I cannot defend the fact that we hired someone we should not have hired," he said. "We made a mistake. We took steps to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Many details surrounding Mr. Ansari's background and how he fooled so many mental health professionals to secure the top post at the 253-bed hospital in Anne Arundel County remain a mystery.

"I sure hope you can find out. We all want to know who he really is," said Terry Bohrer, who chaired the national search committee that selected Mr. Ansari as a finalist from a field of 50 candidates.

Although Mr. Ansair has a bachelor's degree in psychology, an assistant attorney general who reviewed his resume found he did not have a doctorate or two master's degrees as he claimed. She also could not verify jobs he claimed to have held in Michigan or Illinois.

An official in Genessee County, Mich., where Mr. Ansari worked before coming to Crownsville, said he resigned as a director of a substance abuse program after administrators discovered he had lied about his credentials to get that job.

After quitting his Crownsville job Aug. 15, he returned at 7:30 p.m. that day to turn in his pager, keys and state car. He hasn't been seen since.

A Mental Hygiene administrator, who asked not to be identified, said state officials have such incomplete records on Mr. Ansari, they don't know where he is or where he might be headed. "No one has a clue. He's just disappeared," she said.

Even mental health professionals who worked closely with Mr. Ansari admit aspects about his background were mysterious from the start.

"Does he have a wife?" asked Ms. Bohrer, a question repeated by Crownsville employees. "I was impressed he was willing to relocate because he had a wife with a post at Johns Hopkins [Hospital]. But in all the social gatherings we had, I never met her."

Hopkins staff said no one by the name given by Mr. Ansari has worked anywhere in the Hopkins health system.

"He told some people he had kids, some people he didn't have kids and some people he had foster kids," said Michael Golden, a health department spokesman, who added Crownsville employees have been comparing notes since Mr. Ansari left.

State administrators grew suspicious four months ago when Mr. Ansari wanted to implement new programs without developing detailed plans, said Dr. Stuart Silver, director of the Mental Hygiene Administration, who flew Mr. Ansari in from Michigan for two interviews.

Dr. Silver decided to have his references checked after several "key clinical people" criticized his management style and transferred from the hospital, and other employees complained they were berated by him in front of patients.

State officials now are making plans to conduct another national search to replace Mr. Ansari.

Mr. Sabatini defended Dr. Silver, who admitted to having contacted only one reference from Mr. Ansari's five-page resume before hiring him.

"I have just incredible respect, faith and confidence in Stu Silver," said Mr. Sabatini. "When he started to perceive there were problems, he took action. He had to make sure [Mr. Ansari's] right to due process was upheld."

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