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Counselor accused of faking drug test results

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
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— A certified substance abuse service provider has been accused of faking the results of drug tests that were supposed to be conducted on a Schenectady County probationer.

James A. Garrett, 65, of Averill Park, was charged this week with five felony counts of offering a false instrument for filing. He’s accused of providing the false information on five separate dates between August and December, according to papers filed in court.

In the documents, Garrett is accused of falsely certifying the probationer “was attending individual sessions, maintaining abstinence from alcohol and testing negative for drugs,” according to court papers.

The case was investigated by state police.

“Essentially, he was providing documentation that urine samples were submitted and OK when he wasn’t in fact performing that service,” state police spokesman Trooper Mark Cepiel said.

Garrett is accused of then receiving compensation for the fake results.

Garrett appeared Monday in Schenectady City Court and pleaded not guilty. He is being represented by attorney John Della Ratta. Della Ratta could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Garrett is on the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services list of “Providers of Clinical Screening and Assessment Services for the Impaired Driving Offender,” according to a spokeswoman for the agency. He did that work on his own, not for a larger company, police said.

Schenectady County spokesman Joe McQueen said Tuesday county Probation Department officials checked and no other county probationers used Garrett, who was based outside of Schenectady County. The probationer is responsible for arranging for the services.

Garrett is also listed with the state Department of Education as a licensed clinical social worker. He has been a certified social worker since 1979, records show, and he is registered through 2016.

The alleged scheme was revealed by the probationer himself, prosecutors said. It was unclear what led to the revelation.

The probationer is identified in papers as Alan Cuomo. Cuomo, then 47, of Rotterdam, was arrested in 2012 in Guilderland and charged with driving while intoxicated. He pleaded guilty to felony driving while intoxicated and was sentenced to five years of probation, records show. His probation was then transferred to Schenectady County.

Schenectady County prosecutor William Sanderson said Tuesday that Cuomo is not expected to face separate criminal charges since the activity would likely still be going on if he hadn’t come forward. But Cuomo is expected to face a violation of his probation, which could result in jail time.

 
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