Valley Man Accused of Posing As Psychologist Using Fraudulent Degree
Charges have been brought against a valley man for purportedly misrepresenting himself as a licensed psychologist with a Ph.D. by utilizing a counterfeit college degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Scott Keeling-Torrez has been indicted by a State Grand Jury for multiple felonies including fraudulent schemes, forgery, perjury, and drug possession.
According to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, a 44-year-old individual is accused of utilizing forged papers to partake in a consistent and deceptive behavior over several years. This includes making false statements to the general public, clients, and employers. The accused has entered a plea of not guilty in response to the allegations.
According to court documents, the suspect’s home was searched and a UCLA diploma, college transcripts, and a resume were found, all of which were determined to be fraudulent. Additionally, there was correspondence with an employer in which the individual referred to themselves as “Dr. Scott Keeling-Torrez” and utilized the title of Ph.D.
It has been reported that he had an impressive collection of 60 credit cards and multiple luxurious vehicles in his name. These vehicles were registered with personalized license plates, bearing the words “DRPYSCH,” “PYSCH,” and “PYSCH2.”
The reason for the revelation of this information was a legal dispute over child custody. According to prosecutors, Keeling-Torrez presented a sworn affidavit in court during the end of 2021, which they claim was false. In the affidavit, he identified himself as “Dr. Scott Keeling-Torrez” and stated that he held a PhD in psychology.
According to the affidavit, Keeling-Torrez offered guidance and support to two minors who were involved in a custody disagreement between their father, Matthew Garner, and their grandmother. Garner was requesting increased visitation rights for the children, who currently resided with their grandmother.
According to the affidavit signed by Keeling-Torrez, it is believed that reintroducing the father into the children’s lives would cause significant harm, as stated in their professional opinion. The affidavit also mentions that the children are currently content and feel secure under the care of their grandmother.
Arizona is where the grandmother, who serves as their guardian, resides while Garner calls Georgia home, which is also where the court proceeding took place. The judge overseeing the child custody dispute in Georgia rejected any modifications to the visitation agreement.
After an unsuccessful search, Garner discovered that Keeling-Torrez was not a licensed psychologist in Arizona. As a result, he lodged complaints with the Phoenix Police Department, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, and the Arizona Board of Psychologist Examiners last year. Each of these entities initiated their own individual investigations.
According to Garner’s statement to the psychologist board last year, the ongoing issue has greatly affected their case.
Michael Tamou, the attorney representing Keeling-Torrez, informed the board that his role was simply that of a behavior coach and mentor to the boys. They clarified that the affidavit was drafted by the boys’ grandmother and Keeling-Torrez’s contribution was solely limited to signing the paperwork.
According to legal records, the individuals state that their act of signing the sworn statement was an error and that Keeling-Torrez did not have the intention to falsify his credentials or trick anyone. However, authorities claim that he went beyond the acceptable boundaries.
Board member Joseph Stewart, Keeling-Torrez provided a comprehensive list of mental health diagnoses in the affidavit, which would have been more appropriate coming from licensed psychologists and psychiatrists.
According to him, this statement does not come from someone who has no license at all.
In September, Keeling-Torrez was issued a cease-and-desist order by the psychology board, instructing him to refrain from representing himself as a psychologist.
According to board member Aditya Dynar, this person is deemed uncontrollable and it is the responsibility of the psychology board to safeguard the public. The board’s cease-and-desist order, it is against Arizona statute for an unlicensed individual to refer to themselves as a “psychologist.”
According to court documents, the attorney general confirmed that Keeling-Torrez’s claimed Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA was a fraudulent document, while the board failed to verify its authenticity.
A spokesperson from UCLA confirmed that there is no individual listed in the records under that specific name.
According to prosecutors, Keeling-Torrez has held employment with three different healthcare organizations since September 2021. His most recent role was as the director of operations for Therapy Trust Behavioral Health in Phoenix. However, the outpatient facility, which specialized in substance abuse treatment, unexpectedly closed down last year.
The individual known as Keeling-Torrez is currently detained in a Maricopa County detention center, with a bail set at $500,000 in cash.