Psychologist Robert Felner, former university dean, loses license following conviction for fraud

July 7, 2011

On May 12, 2011, the Illinois Division of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) suspended the license of psychologist Robert D. Felner. 

According to the IDFPR website, Felnder was suspended “due to his conviction in U.S. District Court for mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, income tax evasion and conspiracy to impede the IRS.” 

Felner pleaded guilty in January 2010 to nine federal charges and agreed to serve 63 days in prison in connection with defrauding the University of Louisville and University of Rhode Island.

Felner and a co-defendant were found to have siphoned $2.3 million from grants and contracts that were supposed to go to those schools but which they kept for themselves. 

Federal investigators say that between 2001 and 2008, Felner solicited survey business from school districts across the U.S.  The money from those contracts was supposed to go to the National Center on Public Education and Social Policy, which Felner founded at the University of Rhode Island.  Instead, he and the co-defendant diverted about $1.7 million received from school districts in Atlanta, Buffalo and Santa Monica, California. 

The money taken from the University of Illinois involves $450,000 of a $694,000 federal grant and $126,000 from other funding sources at the university.  These monies ended up in a bank account in Louisville controlled by Felner and the co-defendant and was used by Felner to pay expenses and make investments. 

Further, Felner admitted that from June 2004 to July 2008, he and the co-defendant fraudulently cause the Rock Island (Illinois) County Council on Addiction, which was headed by the co-defendant, to make payments to Felner for work he did. Prosecutors state that no work was done.

Lastly, Felner admitted evading federal income taxes from 2002 through 2007, failing to pay $490,000 in taxes on unreported income during those years.

Source: Entry for Robert D. Felner, license #71003547, as posted on the website of the Illinois Division of Financial and Professional Regulation, URL:, accessed July 6, 2011 and Nancy Rodriguez, “Former University of Louisville dean Robert Felner faces 63 months in prison, restitution,” Courier-Journal, January 8, 2010.


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