Psych Crime Reporter

April 4, 2011

“I don’t have a crystal ball,” says owner of anger management counseling service that treated accused murder Steven Zinda

Filed under: anger management,Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 10:46 am
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It has been acknowledged for some time that the mental health profession is unable to reliably predict patient violence.

So it is no surprise that in the following article, Claudia Dias admits her inability to do that, in reference to a former client who was charged with murder just days after graduating from her anger management program (which he’d been in for a year).

One could also conclude that, in the case of the accused, anger management counseling does not work.  Columbine High School shooter Eric Harris had been through anger management counseling prior to his killing rampage with pal Dylan Klebold in April 1999.  And in June 2010, Virginia anger management counselor Jose Luis Avila was jailed for pointing a loaded firearm at federal Marshalls (Avila, who did not know they were federal Marshalls, had honked at the men, who he thought were standing in the road.  He initially left the scene but, thinking one of them had made an obscene gesture at him, came back and pointed a gun at them).

So much for anger management.

The following story describes Dias as a counselor, though the California State Board of Behavioral Sciences, which licenses mental health counselors, does not list an active license in her name (or for “Claudia Diaz”).

An anger management counselor who treated Steven Zinda for over a year said she was “devastated” when she heard Zinda was charged with killing a young man with an axe just days after he graduated from the program.

“I don’t have a crystal ball,” said Claudia Dias, Director of Changing Courses, where records obtained by News10 show Zinda, 29, enrolled in a court-ordered anger management program in December 2009.

“I’ve done this kind of work for about 30 years and I’ve never had anyone do (anything like this) with my name on a completion certificate,” Dias said. “This is not my shining moment.”

Sacramento County sheriff’s investigators said Zinda killed David Valdez, 20, after chasing him nearly a quarter mile through a field in Rio Linda.

Valdez’ car became stuck in the mud in front of Zinda’s home early Sunday morning and Zinda apparently mistook Valdez for a burglar who had earlier broken into his home.

The counseling order is contained in a 2009 divorce petition filed by Zinda against his wife, Joanna, 21, who lives in Yuba City.

The couple share legal custody of a 2 and a half-year-old son named Lucas, although Steven had sole physical custody. The file was still active with the next court hearing scheduled for April 5.

“Parents shall participate in counseling to address issues regarding domestic violence with a licensed mental health provider,” reads the Sacramento County Superior Court order.

The file also suggests substance abuse problems. “Parents shall participate in an alcoholism and drug dependance evaluation,” the order reads.

Zinda was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in a Sacramento County Jail courtroom on a murder charge. He appeared briefly with a retained attorney but did not enter a plea and remains in custody without bail.

Clients who were leaving the Changing Courses anger management class Tuesday did not wish to talk about their former classmate, but Dias spoke for the group.

“We’re devastated. All we can think about is the 20-year-old kid and how much terror he must have been in, and Steven’s 3-year-old son, and Steven’s family. There’s a ripple effect on the people,” Dias said.

Dias said she often uses the teachings of Austrian psychiatrist Victor Frankl with her anger management clients.

“Between every action and reaction there’s a space. And in that space is choice,” Dias said. “And (in this case) wrong choices were made.”

Source: “Counselor devastated by client’s fatal axe attack,” ABC News10 (Sacramento, CA), March 22, 2011.

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September 16, 2010

Psychiatrist Alex A. Fider loses license related to road rage shooting

Filed under: anger management,crime and fraud,psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 4:55 am
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On August 4, 2010, psychiatrist Alex Abelardo Fider surrendered his license to Medical Board of California, agreeing to not petition for three years to have his it reinstated.

This action was done as result of actions taken upon Fider in Tennessee. On May 20, 2009, the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners placed Fider’s medical license on probation for three years following his March 10, 2009 guilty plea in the Criminal Court of Marion County, Tennessee, to a felony charge of reckless aggravated assault relating to a road rage incident wherein he fired a gun striking another vehicle containing children. He was sentenced to three years criminal probation.

Source: Stipulated Surrender of License in the Matter of the Accusation Against Alex Abelardo Sarmiento Fider, M.D., Physician and Surgeon Certificate No. A51631, Case No. 16-2009-201528.

August 26, 2010

Anger management counselor sentenced to one year prison; pulled gun on federal Marshalls in traffic incident

Filed under: anger management — Psych Crime Reporter @ 1:21 am
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On July 23, 2010, the Virginia Department of Health Professions suspended the licenses of professional counselor and marriage & family therapist Jose Luis Avila.

This action was based on Avila’s June 29, 2010 conviction for Assaulting a Federal Law Enforcement Officer while Engaged in the Performance of his Official Duties, a felony, for which Avila was sentenced to twelve months in prison (USA v. Avila, Case 1:10CR00133-001, USM No. 75001-083, United State District Court, Eastern District of Virginia).

Avila worked as an anger management counselor.
According to court documents, on Jan. 25, 2010, Avila honked his horn at two men who had just returned to their cars. Unbeknownst to Avila, the two men were federal Marshalls who had just returned from completing a witness interview. Avila initially left the scene after one of the men waved him around. Avila then turned his car around and pointed a loaded firearm at them. The Marshals apprehended Avila and recovered the firearm after a brief pursuit.
Avila is also required to be on two years of supervised release following his prison sentence.

Source: Judgment in a Criminal Case, USA v. Avila, Case 1:10CR00133-001, USM No. 75001-083, United State District Court, Eastern District of Virginia and Order in Re: Jose Luis Avila, L.P.C, M.F.T., License Nos. 0701-002091 and 0717-000500, Before the Department of Health Professionals, State of Virginia. and “Anger management counselor in prison for assault,” Alexandria News, August 9, 2010.

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