Investigations

State says Temple Terrace mayor broke the law claiming to be a psychologist

TEMPLE TERRACE, Fla. (WFLA) - The Florida Department of Health found that Temple Terrace Mayor Mel Jurado broke the law claiming she was a psychologist.

The DOH conducted an investigation into an allegation that Jurado called herself a psychologist without holding a valid state license.

During a November interview, Jurado admitted to telling people she is an Industrial Organizational Psychologist.

Mayor Jurado told a state investigator she thought she could use the term Industrial Organizational Psychologist if she didn't participate in clinicals, social work or employee assistance programs.  

The DOH issued her a cease and desist order and fined her $750.

Records show she paid the fine and the cost of the investigation amounting to an additional $64.

The investigation found that Jurado called herself an Industrial Organizational Psychologist on her Mel4Mayor.com web page.  

She also claimed that was her occupation in her monthly motivational newsletter and on the Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce Business web site.

According to the Department of Health, that constitutes a crime.

"This is lying, stating you are qualified to do something that you're not," long time Temple Terrace resident Jim Buteyn said.  

"If all of us have to abide by the laws, our mayor should have to abide by the laws as well."

Buteyn was among those asking the mayor to step down in October, when questions arose about the PhD she claims she earned from LaSalle University of Louisiana.

That school was never accredited and was a diploma mill.

The FBI raided the school the same year Jurado received her PhD from it.

Still, that didn't stop her from claiming she holds a PhD.

She promoted it as one of her qualifications during the mayoral campaign. 

Though the PhD came off the city's web site, it is still on Jurado's Linkedin page.

During the election season, Amina Spahic invited Jurado to speak to Temple Terrace Democrats.

"Everyone was very impressed by her speaking abilities and her experience but the fact that she thought she presented herself as a doctor, I don't think was very ethical," Spahic explained.

"It's one thing to lie to the citizens of this community," Buteyn stated. "She's lied to her clients, she has lied to governors." 

In August, Florida House candidate Melissa Howard dropped out of her race when it was revealed her degree was a phony.  

Howard was investigated by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and prosecuted for committing a crime.

"The mayor needs to step down, it's that simple," Buteyn added.  

Buteyn wrote Temple Terrace police chief Kenneth Albano this week, informing the chief that Buteyn was patiently waiting for the department's investigation into Jurado's claims that she had a PhD.

City spokesperson Laurie Hayes, reached by text, stated, "TTPD [Temple Terrace police department] had no case involving the mayor."

When asked why not, there was no reply. 

If you know of something that you think should be investigated call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1-800-338-0808. Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.


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