Lakewood Ranch Man Gets 5 Years In Prison For Fake Counseling Services

SARASOTA COUNTY, FL. – Phillip Stutzman, 45, of Lakewood Ranch, pleaded no contest, was adjudicated guilty, and was sentenced on Thursday to five years in prison with the Florida Department of Corrections and 10 years probation after being charged with multiple felony counts in 2019 of Unlicensed Practice of a Healthcare Professional.

According to at least 13 victims, Phillip Stutzman, also known as Dr. Phillip Nikao, had been providing counseling/therapy services under false pretenses, misrepresentations, and without a license between October 2016 and January 2019. 

Stutzman claimed to have a master’s degree in Neuroscience and a Doctorate in Psychology that he obtained online.  Since 2016, Stutzman was providing services for individuals who had been sexually abused and for individuals with weight and anxiety problems.

Detectives contacted the Florida Department of Health and spoke with their investigators who did not find any valid licenses for Stutzman or the last name of Nikao. 

Detectives also contacted the university Stutzman claimed his degrees were from and learned the degrees were falsified.

In addition to being sentenced to five years in prison and 10 years probation, Stutzman has been ordered not to practice as a life coach/therapist and has been ordered to pay at least $65,000 in restitution to the victims.

“This is a case that Sarasota Police Detective Ross Revill has been persistently working on since it was assigned to him in 2019,” said Criminal Investigations Division Captain Johnathan Todd.  “We’re thankful for the victims who had the courage to come forward and let us know what happened. 

Victim Advocate Jude Castro worked tirelessly and diligently to stay in contact with every victim.  This man preyed on innocent people who were looking for help when they were most vulnerable.  This outcome brings a resolution to the victims in this case and makes our community safe,” said Captain Todd.

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