Former chemical dependency assessor charged with forgery, swindle, theft

A Nashwauk man whose job was to assess the chemical dependency of people who committed crimes in northern St. Louis County -- and who hid a lengthy criminal history of his own -- was charged Tuesday with eight crimes, including forging the state ...

A Nashwauk man whose job was to assess the chemical dependency of people who committed crimes in northern St. Louis County -- and who hid a lengthy criminal history of his own -- was charged Tuesday with eight crimes, including forging the state clearance that enabled him to work.

Andrew Ryan Duffy, 33, was charged in St. Louis County District Court in Virginia with two counts of aggravated forgery, two counts of uttering a forged instrument -- the act of offering an instrument as "good" when it actually is false -- two counts of forgery, theft by swindle and theft. He was being held on $25,000 bail.

Duffy was arrested Friday after a probation officer notified St. Louis County sheriff's office investigators that warrants had been issued for Duffy's arrest for prior crimes.

Duffy was hired Aug. 15 as a chemical dependency assessor for Arrowhead Center in Virginia. The agency has a contract to provide chemical dependency assessments for Arrowhead Regional Corrections.

It's estimated that Duffy conducted between 100 and 200 chemical dependency assessments. It hasn't been determined whether those assessments will have to be done over. "The integrity of the evaluation is very important, and, in consultation with the sentencing court, we're developing a strategy to review all cases that he was engaged in,'' said Tom Roy, executive director of Arrowhead Regional Corrections.


Rick Goodman, executive director of the Arrowhead Center, said Tuesday that he first learned from the Minnesota Department of Human Services that Duffy was disqualified from working when he first attempted to hire him, but no reason was provided. When Goodman confronted Duffy, Duffy told him it was a simple matter of identity theft and it would be cleared up.

Goodman said he then received a fax clearing Duffy to work. He didn't remember seeing a cover letter or letterhead stationary with the fax. "I assumed it was from the Department of HumanServices,'' he said.He said the fax stated something like "the individual is cleared to work, cleared to have client contact.''

Duffy is accused of forging that document. A sheriff's investigator on Monday reviewed the faxed document and discovered by the phone number on the fax that it came from a fictitious business that was allegedly owned by Duffy, the complaint states.

Goodman said his agency did not conduct a criminal background check of Duffy before he was hired. "We rely on the Department of Human Services for that,'' he said. "We give them the name and license number and they run the background check. I did the license verification last Friday and the state said, 'That's a good license, but it isn't his.' ''

Goodman fired Duffy.

Patrice Vick, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Human Services, said Tuesday: "To our knowledge, we did background studies on everybody who worked in that program. Someone with a record like that would not be allowed to work in a chemical dependency program.''

Duffy worked out of offices in the Hibbing and Virginia courthouses. A Virginia Police Department investigator determined that Duffy received $23,286.23 during his employment with Arrowhead Center while allegedly using a forged license, leading to the theft-by-swindle charge. The defendant also is accused of stealing a radio with an estimated value between $500 and $1,000 from Arrowhead Regional Corrections.

According to court records, misdemeanors or felony theft cases were filed against Duffy in nine Minnesota counties between 1997 and 2005. Under Minnesota law, he could not be licensed to work as a chemical dependency assessor for seven years after he had completed a sentence for a misdemeanor crime, 10 years after completing a sentence for a gross misdemeanor or15 years after completing a sentence for a felony offense, Vick said.


Duffy has spent little time behind bars, according to court records. He has a felony financial transaction fraud conviction in Cass County in 1997 and was ordered to spend 60 days in an Anoka County Workhouse program.

Duffy was convicted of felony theft by check in Anoka County in 1998. He received five years probation, was fined $1,500 and ordered to pay about $1,500 restitution.

There's an active warrant in Carlton County in connection with a 2001 case for Duffy failing to appear for two scheduled hearings to address a bad check case. He was sentenced to a year and a day in the St. Cloud Correctional Facility in 2001 after being convicted of the attempted theft of $2,500. A bad check case filed against him in Rock County was dismissed in 2002.

A warrant was issued after he failed to appear for an unpaid-fine hearing in St. Louis County in 2002 in two more bad check cases. Those files remain open.

Duffy lived in Minnetonka, White Bear Lake and Keewatin during the time of his thefts, according to court records.

Goodman said investigators had Duffy's personnel files Tuesday and he couldn't provide specific information, but he remembered the defendant's resume as listing himself as a licensed psychological counselor with undergraduate and master's degrees from Mankato State University. He said Duffy said he was almost done with the work needed for a PhD.

Goodman said he didn't know if Duffy's claimed academic credentials were fraudulent. "What I did discover was false, so one can assume that the rest of it is, if you make a generalization,'' he said.

Duffy was arraigned before 6th Judicial District Judge James Florey on Tuesday morning. Florey, the district's chief judge, said he couldn't comment on the merits of the case, but is confident that Arrowhead Regional Corrections and the Arrowhead Center will take any corrective action necessary.


"We're all extremely concerned about this and are shocked that this could have happened,'' Florey said. "We have a responsibility to the public to certainly look into this and address those issues.''

MARK STODGHILL covers public safety and courts. He can be reached weekdays at (218) 723-5333 or by e-mail at .

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