The local teen accused of posing as a physician assistant has been sentenced to one year in the Osceola County Jail with credit for the 264 days of time he has already served.
Matthew Scheidt was found guilty by a 6-person jury in August for impersonating a physician assistant and practicing medicine without a license. Circuit Judge Jon B. Morgan on Wednesday said Scheidt must also complete one year of community control and a total of eight years supervised probation. He said Scheidt must also undergo a mental health evaluation upon his release.
"It's clear to the court that these were not sophisticated crimes," said Judge Morgan, but while alluding the complexities of the case, he made it clear, "there is no question that you knew what you were doing was wrong."
State prosecutors argued that the then-17-year-old St. Cloud boy had deceived staff to gain access to patients in the emergency room of Osceola Regional Medical Center. No patients were called to the stand during the trial, though over a dozen hospital staff members testified.
During the sentencing hearing, the defense called on two witnesses to testify on behalf of Scheidt's character, including one of Scheidt's mentors in law enforcement and a psychologist.
"Matt had a really good drive for helping out," said Deputy Heath Yeager with the Osceola County Sheriff's Office Explorer Program, a youth volunteer program in which Scheidt participated. "He always was very helpful, very knowledgeable," Yeager added. "Most of the time, if he had any issues, it was because he was too eager."
Dr. Eric Mings, an Orlando psychologist, evaluated Scheidt for issues which may have led to impairment of judgement. He was called to the stand to clarify his findings.
"My conclusions were that, intellectually, Matthew presents himself as someone who is very self-assured," said Dr. Mings, but added that, in reality, he suffers from issues with self-esteem. Mings said that Scheidt was an overachiever who had a mixed personality disorder which motivated his behavior.
"I didn't see any indication of psychosis," Mings said, suggesting a child-like, role-playing behavior on the part of Scheidt. "I think he lacked the real understanding for the seriousness of his actions."
When asked if Scheidt knew his actions were wrong, Mings said, "I think he understood that this was wrong and didn't appreciate that he could be caught."
Mings said Scheidt's primary motivation was not based on malice or criminal intent, but on the attention and respect given to people in the positions he impersonated. "He needs counseling to address why he would allow himself to get into this circumstance," he added.
During the hearing, Judge Morgan noted to Scheidt that, "the intent in this sentencing is to punish you, but not destroy your life, while at the same time protecting the community."
Scheidt declined to comment when asked if wished to make a statement. The teen is also in trouble in South Florida, where he accused of impersonating a police officer.