As a forensic psychologist, he has been involved in dozens of criminal cases but now Dr. Albert Fink finds himself on the wrong side of one. Charged with obstruction and theft, Dr. Fink, 83, made his first court appearance Wednesday morning, accused of falsifying the competency report he filed in the high-profile arson and explosives case of Caleb Loving.
Dr. Fink, who has offices in Evansville and Bloomington, is one of only a handful of forensic psychologists across the state. Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann said its not out of the realm of possibility that Dr. Fink testified in or submitted reports in hundreds of criminal cases across the state over the last several years.
In Vanderburgh County alone, Dr. Fink was involved in 70 criminal cases since 2012. The county paid Dr. Fink $55,000 for his services in those cases, Hermann said.
Dr. Fink appeared in court via video conference Wednesday morning. The court entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. While reading the charges, Dr. Fink spoke with muted tones with his head down.
“I don’t understand what you’re saying exactly,” Dr. Fink told the judge after he was read the charge of theft.
Prosecutors have alleged that Dr. Fink committed theft by taking payment from the county without providing the necessary service.
In the third day of the Loving trial, the prosecution and defense filed a joint motion requesting a mistrial, an extremely rare move in most criminal proceedings. The motion was warranted because authorities began to have questions about the accuracy of Dr. Fink’s report.
Indiana state law requires the court to appoint two forensic psychologists to interview a defendant if his or her competency is called into question.
The day before the mistrial was declared, Dr. Fink was involved a single-vehicle accident in Bloomington. According to Indiana State Police Sgt. Todd Ringle, troopers noted that Dr. Fink appeared to have intentionally left the roadway before hitting the tree.
During an interview with investigators, Dr. Fink reportedly admitted to falsifying Loving’s report and many more in the past. Hermann said Dr. Fink has testified in 70 criminal cases — many of which are considered serious offenses — in Vanderburgh County and possibly hundreds of cases across the state. Hermann said his office has been in contact with prosecutors in other counties to alert them to the situation. Hermann said his office has also contacted the Attorney General’s Office.
Authorities now have the arduous task of going through those 70 cases, some of which have already been adjudicated.
“The detectives are still looking through the cases trying to determine which cases he did his job in and if there are other cases where he did not meet with the defendants or he did not perform the requisite tests that he was paid to do,” Hermann said. “That’s taking some time obviously. There’s a lot of detail, a lot of reports, medical records and things to go through. That’s how the investigation is proceeding from here.”
To his knowledge, Fink testified in one misdemeanor case in Warrick County. So far, he has not been contacted by any other county prosecutor.
In Loving’s case, Dr. Fink reportedly admitted to never even meeting with Loving prior to submitting his report to the court.
“The interaction that he said he had with the defendant and the tests he said he had with the defendant and to try to determine whether he actually appeared and met with the client… those are things that we’re trying to figure out at this point,” Hermann said.
In a twist of irony, Dr. Fink also prepared a report in the criminal case against Michelle Hershberger, according to court records. Hershberger was accused of intentionally setting fire to her apartment at Sugar Mill Creek in April 2014.