The arrest of a Valley couple by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office points to a potentially serious problem within Arizona's family court system.
"There appears to be very little checks and balances with anyone who wants to be certified as a court-appointed provider of these types of services, whether it's psychiatric care for children, or managing visitation rights, and so and so forth," said Sgt. Brandon Jones with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
Today, armed with a search warrant, deputies moved in on a residence and business,Legacy Family and Children's Services, owned and operated by Ciara and Michael Coultrap of Mesa. It's alleged that that the couple "defrauded the Maricopa County court system, as well as dozens of families, by improperly providing child custody mediation services for which they are not professionally qualified."
"It's scary. I don't know what type of things these people have put the children through. It's just sad to use children for personal gain," said Jones.
According to MCSO, Ciara Coultrap pretended to be a professional therapist with a doctoral degree. She and her husband have been providing mediation and supervised visitation services to the courts and county families since 2009.
It's too early in the investigation to determine just how many families have been impacted by the alleged fraudulent services of the pair and MCSO is urging anyone who may have used the couple's services to call them immediately.