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Ex-corrections official who lied about psych license facing trial

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CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — A retired Department of Corrections official charged with practicing psychology without a license has to decide whether he will take a plea deal or go to trial, and his $57,500 annual pension may hang in the balance.

Ronnie P. Erricson, 50, of Cape May Court House, who saw patients out of his Fairway Drive home and falsely claimed to have a doctorate degree in psychology and a license to practice in New Jersey, was also charged last year with endangering the welfare of a child and falsification of record.

He appeared before Superior Court Judge Michael Donohue for a pretrial conference Thursday morning, where his attorney, Hercules Pappas, asked for another pretrial conference date. Erricson has been denied participation in pretrial intervention and the Veterans Assistance Program, Pappas said, adding he wants to see how a deal would affect Erricson’s pension.

Donohue granted Pappas’ request, setting Nov. 1 as the last pretrial conference date, adding the matter will either be resolved that day or it’s going to trial.

Erricson retired from the Department of Corrections in July 2010 and currently receives a $4,791.91 pension every month that is funded by the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System, state data show.

A request for comment from the Office of the State Treasurer about what could happen to Erricson’s pension was not returned Thursday.

Assistant Prosecutor Michael Mazur said Erricson faces probation if he decides to take a deal. If he goes to trial, Erricson could face as many as 11 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

Howard Wright, 62, of Dennis Township, had family members who were patients of Erricson, so he’s been following the case closely.

He said he’s frustrated by the case, which seems to be dragging out longer than necessary, adding that every minute he spends in a courtroom on this is another minute of his life wasted.

“When I found out he wasn’t a doctor, it was kind of disheartening,” Wright said. “There’s such a trust and a bond you have with your doctor.”

The Cape May County Prosecutor’s Economic Crimes Unit began investigating Erricson after receiving a complaint from a victim who believed Erricson was not licensed, according to a news release from the Prosecutor’s Office on March 30, 2017, the day he was charged.

Erricson treated “multiple patients at his residence, both adults and juveniles,” according to the release.

Erricson’s personal website listed him as a psychotherapist with New Beginnings Behavioral Health in Cape May Court House, his education as “PsyD doctor of psychology clinical psychologist, doctor of psychology” and that he has a “psychological first aide PFA certificate” with the National Child Trauma Stress Network, according to previous reports in the Middle Township Gazette.

The social media site has since been removed.

According to the Division of Consumer Affairs’ license verification system, Erricson held a practical nurse license, which expired in 2004.

Contact: 609-272-7241

Mbilinski@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressMollyB

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Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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