Proceedings start against 38 individuals; most failed to report convictions

BOSTON - April 8, 2010 - The Patrick-Murray Administration's Division of Professional Licensure today started proceedings against 38 individuals who have been convicted of serious crimes and who hold a state-issued professional license or a right to renew that license. Most of these individuals failed to report their convictions despite a legal requirement to do so.

Among those charged are 31 real estate salespersons, one physical therapist, two physical therapist assistants, three occupational therapy assistants, and a funeral director. The underlying convictions include enticing a child under 16, possession of child pornography, possession of drugs with intent to distribute, and aggravated assault and battery.

"The system to assess the merits of each individual license applicant completely breaks down if candidates do not report serious crimes to the state licensing boards," said George K. Weber, Director of the Division of Professional Licensure. "Without full disclosure of a criminal background, the public cannot be protected."

The legal proceedings initiated today are part of a year-long, first-ever comprehensive comparison of hundreds of thousands of state licensing records with records maintained by the state Criminal History Systems Board. The 38 individuals charged today bring the total number charged in the year-long project to over 100 licensed individuals in various professions and trades.

"This review will continue. State professionals should voluntarily come forward rather than wait to be caught misrepresenting their criminal history," said Weber.

Those charged today face possible revocation or suspension of their professional license. Orders to show cause, legal documents outlining the charges against the licensees, were delivered today. The licensees have the right to a hearing before their respective boards.

"In many cases, these licensed professionals are in people's homes, and consumers should be able to trust that these licensees are not dangerous," said Barbara Anthony, the Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. "The Division should be commended for this effort, which also ensures professionals in these trades aren't unfairly tarnished by a few bad actors."

Consumers are urged to visit the Division of Professional Licensure's website at www.mass.gov/dpl and select the "Check a Professional's License" option to determine whether a professional they are considering doing business with is licensed and in good standing.

The Division of Professional Licensure is a regulatory agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. The agency is responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance and the integrity of the licensing process for approximately 330,000 licensees across 43 trades and professions under the jurisdiction of 31 Boards of Registration.