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Ex-employee must repay mental health provider

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Saturday, March 1, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
 

An Armstrong County man pleaded no contest on Friday to a misdemeanor count of theft by deception for accepting a salary from a West Leechburg-based social service agency that claims he misrepresented himself as a licensed psychologist.

Lawrence Stefan Lovasik, 60, of Kittanning entered the plea — which is not an admission of guilt other than for purposes of sentencing — under a deal negotiated with the state attorney general's office.

Lovasik was sentenced to three years' probation and will be barred for 10 years from working for health care providers that receive Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements for services.

Westmoreland County Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. ordered Lovasik to pay back $17,666 that he received in salary from May through October 2011 from Unity Family Services, which provides mental health services.

McCormick said he would reduce the length of Lovasik's probation term if he repays his former employer in less than three years.

“Our contention was that his education qualifications were not what they were purported to be. We want to make sure he is not working for providers that receive taxpayer reimbursements,” Deputy Attorney General Mark Serge said.

The prosecution on Friday downgraded the theft charge to a misdemeanor offense. Lovasik originally was charged with a felony.

In a criminal complaint filed in April 2012, the attorney general's office said Lovasik stole his salary, which he improperly earned by misrepresenting himself as a licensed psychologist.

Upon his hiring, Lovasik produced a psychologist license from the state of Georgia that later was found to be registered to another person, the complaint said.

Lovasik's attorney, William Difenderfer, told the judge that a civil lawsuit Lovasik filed against Unity Family Services was withdrawn this week.

Lovasik did not make a statement during the brief hearing.

“I was not hired as a psychologist. I never presented myself as a psychologist. I was hired as a vice president of operations,” Lovasik said outside the courtroom.

He said his resume correctly showed that he holds a doctorate in analytical psychology from Greenwich University of London.

“I am essentially pleading to an egregious lack of judgment 20 years ago,” Lovasik said.

He declined to elaborate.

Chuck Gould, the chief financial officer for Unity Family Services who did not attend the hearing, said he is satisfied with the outcome of the case and the stipulation that Lovasik not work for the next decade for medical providers receiving government reimbursements.

“That was our main concern — that he's not able to do this in the future,” Gould said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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