inspects an unidentified boy on a mission trip with Hope Baptist Church to Thailand in November.
Click here>Click here Raymond Giunta, who lacked any medical credentials, fills out paperwork on a mission trip with Hope Baptist Church to Thailand in November.
, who lacked any medical credentials, fills out paperwork on a mission trip with Hope Baptist Church to Thailand in November.
is a man of many titles.
Everyone is learning this now â€" the judge who asked Giunta
to profile juvenile arson suspects, the church that sent him on medical mission trips, the county officials who gave him a contract to provide drug and alcohol counseling to teens.
They are all astounded.
But the seemingly elaborate ruse did not require much to pull off â€" a Ph.D. that Giunta
purchased online for a few hundred bucks, his
winning personality and, occasionally, a lab coat on his
shoulders and a stethoscope around his
Giunta's explanation for all this is simple.Although he
never took a single class, he
thought the Ph.D. was legitimate.And besides, he
been helping people for years through his
nonprofit group, We Care Ministries
.Whether Giunta, 47, is a master manipulator, as his critics claim, or incredibly gullible, as he claims, his ability to so easily infiltrate the social care network reveals much about Las Vegas â€" a transient town that welcomes reinvention but lacks many basic service providers.
In Giunta's case, his
credentials and their lack of legitimacy were overlooked amid a rabid hunger for such services.
"Doctor" is only the most recent title by which Giunta
has been known.He earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from California State University and, in 1987, founded We Care Ministries to serve people in crisis.
To help pay the bills, he
took a job as the director of the California Cemetery Board
in the mid-'90s.He
led a hard-charging effort to clean up the industry, uncovering wide-scale reuse of grave plots.
became the accused.A state audit found he illegally took more than $10,200 in cemetery trust funds intended for graveyard upkeep from the owner of a cemetery that he regulated.Giunta
opened a bank account with the money and wrote more than $5,800 worth of checks to his wife, Cathy, credit card companies, a child care provider, a dry cleaner, the phone company and We Care Ministries
, the audit said.
said the money was payment for repairs that We Care Ministries
made at the cemetery.His
said, was commingling that money with personal funds.
would appear again in the public spotlight under another title: chaplain.
In the days following the 9/11 attacks, Giunta
flew to New York City.
The book foreshadows how Giunta
would later operate in Las Vegas.
In the opening chapter Giunta
and members of his
ministry are on their way to New York.
were wearing our tactical, police-style blue uniforms, along with clerical collars that identified us as chaplains," Giunta
...Giunta moved from Sacramento to Las Vegas in 2004 to become pastor of community care at Central Christian Church in Henderson, one of the valley's largest churches.In 2005, Giunta and his wife decided to get their master's and doctoral degrees â€" social work and clinical psychology for him, social and behavioral science and psychology for her.
Their school of choice: Rochville University
.Giunta's transcripts say he earned his master's in 2002 and his doctorate in 2005.
But students at Rochville University
don't actually take any classes.Applicants simply fill out a brief form online explaining their life experiences.They then pay a fee â€" $769 for the "master's and doctorate degree package" â€" and receive a degree and transcripts in the mail within five days.Applicants can even choose their graduation date and, for an extra $60, bump up their GPA from the standard 3.0 to a 3.4 to 3.6.Giunta
earned a 3.5 and 3.52 for work on his master's and doctorate, respectively.
In 2005, Giunta
started volunteering with the Youth Firesetting Intervention Program, sponsored by the Fire Prevention Association of Nevada
.The program is targeted at the most dangerous young pyromaniacs.
came into the picture after the program called Central Christian Church
was "phenomenal with children," Hooper said.
began taking appointments for counseling.
That might have been the understanding going in but documents Giunta
submitted to the court went far beyond that to include assessments of the juveniles and recommendations about treatment options.In some cases, Giunta
even diagnosed children with mental health disorders.Giunta
listed himself as the evaluator in the documents and placed "Psy.D." after his
The fire setters program stopped using Giunta
after referring five or six children to him because he
was unreliable, she
But Giunta's credibility had been established in the court system.Voy continued to send juveniles to him for arson risk assessments that Giunta
provided for free.
, though, would be accepting referrals from the county again within a few months.
â€¢â€¢â€¢In spring 2006 Giunta left Central Christian Church and began attending Hope Baptist Church, another large church in the southeast part of the Las Vegas Valley.The church badly needed a pastoral counselor and Giunta stepped into the gap, head pastor Vance Pittman said.
quickly became known as "Dr.
At Hope, Giunta
turned again to symbols.He
wore a doctor's lab coat with the word "Doc" on its lapel while teaching and counseling, Pittman said.Giunta
even wore a stethoscope during a church-sponsored mission trip to Africa, Pittman said.
was, however, helping many in the church, Pittman said.
In 2006, Giunta
ministered to scores of Metro Police
officers mourning the death of Sgt.
But some church members saw a different side of Giunta
During a medical mission to Thailand in November, Giunta
wore a stethoscope as he
examined children, said Angie Silla, a Las Vegas nurse who went on the trip.In one case, Giunta
provided a liver cleanse to a Thai woman who had hepatitis, Silla said.
denied doing anything improper, insisting he
was simply following the orders of a medical doctor on the trip.
After returning from Thailand, Silla became determined to expose Giunta
Silla's concerns alarmed another church member, who asked Giunta
for copies of his
degrees.In March, Giunta
obliged.A quick Google search revealed the degrees were worthless.
That moved church leaders to take action.They sent out an April 30 letter to all congregants saying the church would stop making referrals to Giunta
because of concerns about his
At that point, however, county officials had struck a new deal with Giunta
In August 2007, Voy agreed to meet Giunta
for lunch at Desert Pines Golf Club
, not far from the family courthouse.
showed up at the lunch with a woman named Kim Johnson and three We Care
board members, including the two Metro detectives.
An Aug. 14 letter from We Care
to the county listed four staff members, including Giunta
insists the program was strictly educational in nature and did not require licensed personnel.
During an interview last week, Giunta
wife said they thought their degrees were legitimate.
"I had heard of other pastors getting honorary degrees for their life work," Giunta
said."I thought, â€˜That will just make the ministry go further.'â€‰"He
submitted two books he
had written, the 9/11 memoir and a grief recovery workbook he
wrote with his
wife.One served as his
master's thesis, the other as his
doctoral dissertation, he
wife didn't know the degrees were bogus until church leaders confronted them in March.
are not defending any of this," Giunta