Warrant issued for witness involved in mistrial; hundreds of cases could be affected

Warrant issued for witness involved in mistrial; hundreds of cases could be affected
Prosecutor Nick Hermann explaining the charges against Dr. Albert Fink at a press conference Friday. (Source: WFIE)
Prosecutor Nick Hermann explaining the charges against Dr. Albert Fink at a press conference Friday. (Source: WFIE)
Records from the Indiana State Psychology Board database detailing a complaint against Dr. Fink in the early 90's. (Source: WFIE)
Records from the Indiana State Psychology Board database detailing a complaint against Dr. Fink in the early 90's. (Source: WFIE)

VANDERBURGH CO., IN (WFIE) - "I don't want to say it's a first.  But it's certainly not the norm."

Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann calling a press conference Friday afternoon to address lingering questions surrounding the Caleb Loving mistrial.

In a joint motion Wednesday morning, Vanderburgh County Circuit Court Magistrate Judge Kelli Fink declared the Loving case a mistrial.

Loving is facing charges of arson and manufacturing an explosive device for incidents that happened in July of 2015.

According to the court docket, Judge Fink declared a mistrial because a court-appointed witness got into a car crash Tuesday afternoon.  And the accuracy of the mental health reports from that witness were called into question.

Prosecutor Hermann says the witness who caused the mistrial, now has a warrant out for his arrest for charges of obstruction of justice and theft.

That witness is Dr. Albert Fink, a clinical psychologist, with an office on Weinbach Avenue in Evansville.

Prosecutor Hermann says Dr. Fink is alleged to have falsified records in mental competency reports for cases in Vanderburgh County, and possibly across Indiana.

"It's very, very rare.  But I think it's the first time we've dealt with it on this scale," explains Hermann.

When news of the mistrial came down Wednesday morning, both the defense and prosecution refused to comment on the circumstances of the decision until Friday.

Prosecutor Hermann explaining during a press conference that," We needed time to go through our records, and determine the scope of what Dr. Fink's actions meant to the criminal justice system."

In the 48 hours that Prosecutor Hermann has had to digest these circumstances, his team has identified 70 cases in which Dr. Albert Fink submitted mental health competency reports.

"There's always two court-appointed doctors who submit reports and findings.  Ultimately, it's up to the court to determine whether an individual is competent or not for trial.  They certainly reference these doctor reports, but it's ultimately up to the court to decide.  The court has a unique ability to do that because the court sees the defendant and interacts with the defendant at multiple times coming up to a trial.  I believe many of these cases Dr. Fink participated in, will stand.  But I do think this would provide a grounds in which you may see a challenge to some of those convictions or pleas."

Public records through the Indiana Professional Licensing database show a history of complaints and actions taken towards Dr. Albert Fink, in both Indiana and Kentucky.

In a complaint filed in March of 1996, state authorities charged Dr. Fink with being incompetent or negligent in the practice of psychology.  Those charges based on allegations missed appointments, cursing at children, losing confidential school files, losing his temper, erratic behavior, and not following state guidelines for placement.

The complaint further explains that:

" On June 16, 1993 the Kentucky Board of Examiners of Psychologists entered into an agreed order with Dr. Fink to surrender his license without admitting any wrongdoing."

Dr. Fink agreed, in a written letter, to never apply again for a psychology license in Kentucky.

In public documents, Dr. Fink testified that the board in Kentucky began an investigation into his license only after he was found not guilty of criminal battery against a child in the Lincoln County School Corporation in June of 1991.

In 1996, the Indiana State Psychology Board dismissed the complaint against Dr. Fink stating:

" Fink did not violate any statutes or regulations in the practice of psychology in the state of Indiana."

Prosecutor Nick Hermann says during an interview with authorities following his car crash Tuesday afternoon, Dr. Fink admitted to authorities he never even met with defendants in some of the cases he submitted reports.  Prosecutor Hermann said his team was shocked when they learned of the news Wednesday morning.

"It is the mission of this office to seek truth and seek justice of criminal acts.  These actions by Dr. Fink strike at the heart of our criminal justice system.  I would like to thank all the agencies involved in this investigation for their swift, attentive, and hard work."

With limited options for court-appointed doctors throughout Indiana, Dr. Fink has submitted reports and testified in cases across Indiana.

Prosecutor Hermann says other prosecutors in the state are combing through records, and more charges are possible for Fink.

If enough evidence exists to re-open a case, Prosecutor Hermann says it only victimizes the victim all over again.

"Defendants choose to commit crimes.  They choose to put themselves in that position.  Victims never asked for this."

Dr. Albert Fink will be transported to the Vanderburgh County Jail, once he's released from a hospital near Bloomington.

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