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Federal agencies investigate veterinarian fraud case within USDA

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Apr 01, 2010

Athens, Ga. — Finding the perfect first job upon becoming a DVM can be a challenging feat, but for Tim Holt, getting several prominent positions as a veterinarian was not a problem — and he never graduated from veterinary school.

Holt's tenure went from the animal health industry all the way to USDA until it was discovered that his credentials were simply bogus.

"I've been recruiting for 10 years and never saw anything like this before," says Ken Berkholtz, a recruiter with Brakke Consulting. "What makes this unusual was this person worked for a company in the pet food business for a few years, saying he was a DVM and board-certified with ACVIM."

Holt was recruited from a pet food company to a pharmaceutical company, where he worked for about two months as a field veterinarian before the company started to question his knowledge of veterinary medicine. Berkholtz says he discovered that Holt had been an undergraduate student at Auburn University, but never earned his DVM degree as his resume claimed. He also hadn't earned the prestigious designation of Georgia Veterinarian of the Year — another claim made on his resume. "We found out it was a complete fraud, and they terminated him," Berkholtz says.

That was back in 2005. About a year ago, Berkhotz says he got Holt's resume again, and the name rang a bell, though he had "updated" his qualifications.

At that time, Holt claimed the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine as his alma mater and said he worked from 2005 to 2008 as a public health veterinarian in Georgia before joining the United States Department of Agriculture in 2008.

"He was working (for USDA) as a meat and poultry inspector and signing off on things as a veterinarian," Berkholtz says.

USDA would not confirm Holt's dates of employment or his job title but said that any information they gave about him could jeopardize an ongoing investigation.

Holt could not be reached at the phone number listed on his last resume sent to Berkholtz. WSB Atlanta first broke the story on a tip from a friend of Holt's.

Lesson learned? Check job applicant's credentials, Berkholtz says.