A Prince George's County minister who resigned from the pastorate of the First Baptist Church of New Carrollton in March after church elders questioned his academic credentials pleaded guilty yesterday to practicing psychology without a license.
The Rev. Edward William Brandt III, who is now co-pastor of the newly-formed Grace Fellowship Church in Bowie, agreed to the plea after prosecutors agreed to drop four other counts against him. Under the terms of the agreement, Prince George's District Court Judge Irving H. Fisher, who called Brandt's actions "massive deceit," fined Brandt $250 and suspended a 60-day jail sentence.
Brandt had counseled several clients at the New Carrollton church's Christian Counseling Center, which he managed.
His attorney, Gary Milne, said in court yesterday that Brandt had been awarded what Brandt thought were graduate degrees in divinity and psychology from Harvard University by auditing several courses and writing two dissertations. Milne produced in court what he said was a Harvard diploma.
Milne did not elaborate on how Brandt got the alleged diploma. "It apparently was a scam," Milne said. But Brandt "just didn't want to believe it because it was something he wanted."
Brandt admitted he made a mistake in not questioning the ease with which he was offered the degrees.
"What I have done in commission or omission is . . . wrong," he said. "I have never, your honor, done anything out of malice or intent to harm."
Brandt said he was "heartbroken" over the matter and has since sought professional psychiatric help. Harvard officials have said they have no record of Brandt attending any graduate programs there.