Hospital impostor accused in new ruse Phony credentials landed Blue Cross job, authorities say

April 30, 1996|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

In Maryland, Haroon R. Ansari once told whopping lies on a resume that state officials never bothered to check and was named to a $62,000-a-year job as head of Crownsville Hospital Center.

The would-be psychologist was declared a fraud, resigned in disgrace and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor last April, promising never to lie on a job application again.

A week later, he sent his resume to officials with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan. Authorities said he told more whopping lies and got hired for over $80,000 a year, with his employer once again failing to conduct a background investigation. He was arrested Friday in Lansing, Mich., for a probation violation.

"It appears Ansari is up to his old tricks," said Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., who is seeking to extradite Mr. Ansari back to Maryland. "But now he'll have to explain them to a judge."

Maryland officials said Mr. Ansari, 35, got the high-level job in Michigan by falsifying his resume. In it, he claimed to have worked for a U.S. Healthcare HMO and to have earned a master's degree in public administration from Western Michigan University.

"Blue Cross and Blue Shield accepted Ansari's resume at face value and hired him at a salary of over $80,000" without checking his professional or criminal background, the attorney general's office said. Had company officials checked, they would have found that the HMO doesn't exist and that Mr. Ansari had no such degree and had been convicted in Maryland of lying about his credentials.

Mr. Ansari caused a scandal here in August 1994, when state officials learned that he had duped them into hiring him to oversee Crownsville mental hospital and its $24 million budget. He had told Maryland officials he held a doctorate in educational psychology and two master's degrees, and they believed him without checking.

He ran Crownsville for six months, but his co-workers eventually caught on that something was amiss when he began making mundane comments at staff meetings that suggested he didn't have the schooling he claimed. Hospital officials began an internal investigation and eventually exposed him, with state officials denouncing him as a "con man."

Within a week of his plea agreement in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, in which he received five years' probation and a $3,000 fine for violating the state personnel law, he applied for the Michigan job, said Assistant Attorney General Carolyn Henneman.

"A condition of his probation was that he was supposed to tell me about any jobs he applied for," Ms. Henneman said. "He neglected to tell me about this one."

A special condition of his probation was also to "be completely truthful on any applications for employment," a term that prosecutors now believe he has violated, Ms. Henneman said.

Mr. Ansari worked for Blue Cross and Blue Shield for nine months before any questions arose about his credibility, prosecutors said. As in Maryland, his co-workers started having suspicions and raising questions about his competence, Ms. Henneman said.

When the company's investigators unearthed the resume discrepancies and the Maryland criminal case, Mr. Ansari was fired, the attorney general's office reported.

Patti Blenkle, a spokeswoman for the Michigan company, refused to answer questions about Mr. Ansari and would not identify his job title.

"The only thing we're saying is that his employment has been terminated and we are investigating his background," Ms. Blenkle said.

If convicted of the Maryland probation violation, Mr. Ansari could be sentenced to six months in prison, the maximum allowed under the state's personnel law.

At the time he lived in the Baltimore area, Mr. Ansari had only a bachelor's degree. The Maryland committee selected him during a nationwide hunt for candidates and failed to notice obvious lies on his resume.

For instance, he said in the Maryland resume that he previously directed a Kansas City mental health program in 1974 -- when he would have been only 13 years old.

Maryland health officials described Mr. Ansari as a likable man who had won the respect of some of his colleagues before being exposed.

Pub Date: 4/30/96

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