Temple Terrace mayor touting phony PhD?

Investigations

She is the mayor of Temple Terrace.

Her page on the city’s website refers to her as Dr. Mel Jurado.

It says she received her PhD in psychology from LaSalle University. But is it real?

It doesn’t tell you that the LaSalle, located in Louisiana, was never accredited and was a diploma mill, whose founder was jailed in 1996 for defrauding students out of millions.

The same year Mel Jurado received her PhD.

The fact she still refers to herself as Dr. Mel is causing quite a stir in the city she governs.

“I think it makes a huge difference,” said Amina Spahic, former head of the Temple Terrace Democrats.

“I understand she may have been a victim of some university that presented itself as legitimate, but the FBI raided that school in ’96, I believe, so at that point you should understand that it [the PhD] is void.” 

The mayor isn’t answering questions about her degree.

Temple Terrace issued a statement, saying this has no bearing on the mayor’s “fitness or qualifications…to serve”. 

“As mayor, she tirelessly represents the City of Temple Terrace with passion and professionalism,” the statement says. 

It said if there are questions about her education credentials, address them with the mayor.  

8 On Your Side tried calling Dr. Mel Jurado and even stopped by her house to see if we could ask a few questions.

Her lawyer, Mark Levine, said he thought the school was accredited at the time the mayor was a student and that Mel Jurado has a product to show what she earned. 

That’s not good enough for some.

“I believe at this point it’s up to the citizens of Temple Terrace to speak out for this and as a citizens of Temple Terrace, I think she should resign from her position,” added Spahic. 

Levine added the mayor has not used her PhD to get a raise.  For now he won’t let her talk to anybody.

On Oct. 16, there is a scheduled city council meeting, at that point we may learn if there is a Dr. in the house.

If you know of something that 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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