Mesa child psychologists accused of years of fraud - New York News

Mesa child psychologists accused of years of fraud

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Ciara and Michael Coultrap Ciara and Michael Coultrap
MESA, Ariz. -

They claimed to be licensed clinical psychologists. Their opinion mattered in child custody cases. But now Ciara and Michael Coultrap are behind bars accused of lying about their credentials.

Deputies say dozens of families may be victims of this couple. Investigators say Ciara Coultrap pretended to be licensed a clinical psychologist -- but her degree was fake -- she bought it online.

Marissa Verburg is one of four victims who claim Ciara and Michael Coultrap victimized her.

"Knowing that I would have to leave Robby there and what condition he would be in when I would pick him up... I was terrified."

The Coultraps were in charge of supervising court-appointed custody visits at their home in east Mesa. Verburg had full custody of her son and would drop him off so he could have supervised visits with his father.

Deputies say the Coultraps were never qualified to supervise those visits or make recommendations about custody to the court.

"I found him with bruises, with rug burns, with bite marks," says Verburg.

Verburg also believes families would pay the Coultraps under the table to give favorable child custody recommendations -- that's still being investigated.

"We don't know how far this is going to take us," says Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

So far Coultraps are facing charges of fraud, forgery, and perjury.

"Oftentimes judges will make custody decisions based on the testimony or documentation that provided by outside individuals, and if those outside individuals have completely defrauded the court system, defrauded families or defrauded children, claimed to be neutral when they're not, claimed to have certain licenses degrees and professional backgrounds they don't have, people are at risk. Children are at risk," says Verburg.

Deputies say the Coultraps operated under a business called Legacy Family and Children's Services. They believe there could be more victims.

Anyone with information should call MCSO.

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