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Closed Palm Seashore College of Nursing linked to federal arrests in diploma scheme

MIAMI — Twenty-five individuals have been charged in a wire fraud scheme that created an unlawful licensing and employment shortcut for aspiring nurses at three now closed colleges, together with the Palm Seashore College of Nursing, federal prosecutors stated Wednesday afternoon.

Defendants offered fraudulent nursing diploma diplomas and transcripts obtained from accredited Florida-based nursing colleges to people looking for licenses and jobs as registered nurses and licensed sensible/vocational nurses, in keeping with three just lately unsealed indictments returned by a South Florida federal grand jury and data filed by federal prosecutors.

The opposite colleges are the Sacred Coronary heart Institute in Fort Lauderdale in Sienna Faculty of Well being in Lauderhill within the investigation dubbed “Operation Nightingale” after legendary nurse Florence Nightingale.

The Palm Seashore college, which was positioned in Lake Price Seashore, was licensed with the Florida Board of Nursing however it was terminated in 2017 as a consequence of low passing charges on the state certification examination. It was dissolved in 2020.

“Not solely is that this a public security concern, it additionally tarnishes the fame of nurses who truly full the demanding scientific and course work required to acquire their skilled licenses and employment,” US Lawyer for the Southern District of Florida Markenzy Lapointe stated in Miami, including that “a fraud scheme like this erodes public belief in our well being care system.”

Certified purchasers have been allowed to take a seat for the nationwide nursing board examination and, after passing it, to acquire licenses and jobs in varied states as RNs and LPNs/VNs. Exams have been taken in Florida, New York, New Jersey and Texas.

Greater than than 7,600 faux nursing diplomas have been issued by the three nursing colleges since 2016 at $15,000 every, netting them greater than $114 million.

Every defendant faces as much as 20 years in jail. They have been charged with conspiring to and committing wire fraud, prosecutors stated. If convicted, they withstand 20 years in jail.

“Well being care fraud is nothing new to South Florida, as many scammers see this as a solution to earn simple, although unlawful, cash,” appearing Particular Agent in Cost Chad Yarbrough, FBI Miami, stated. “What’s disturbing about this investigation is that there are over 7,600 individuals across the nation with fraudulent nursing credentials who’re doubtlessly in important well being care roles treating sufferers. Have been it not for the diligence and exhausting work of the investigators on this case, the extent of this fraud might not have been found.”

Investigators stated a couple of third of the people who find themselves truly training medication.

“A very powerful factor for us was to ensure, to the extent we’re speaking about well being care, is that we cease the bleeding,” Lapointe stated. “What can we be taught when any individual will get injured? Cease the bleeding. The bleeding right here is to cease these colleges from with the ability to put extra fraudulent diplomas out within the public sphere.”

There are two classes of defendants. Recruiters would deliver “college students” from different states to get the “shortcut” paperwork from the South Florida college. The opposite group included homeowners, operators and workers of nursing colleges to faux diplomas and transcripts.

In 2021, an undercover FBI worker met with Fort Lauderdale businessman Geralda Adrien
Adrien at her Fort Lauderdale workplace. She stated a traditional nursing college program lasts 22 months and might equate to 4 years at a big college.

Adrien provided the undercover worker a level from the Palm Seashore College of Nursing and coaching for a licensing examination in New York at a price of $16,000, in keeping with an FBI affidavit.

Fourteen of these charged are linked to the Palm Seashore County college.

Prosecutors alleged recruiters organized with Palm Seashore College of Nursing’s proprietor Johanah Napoleon and college workers Gail Russ, Cheryl Stanley, Krystal Lopez and Ricky Riley to create and distribute false and fraudulent diplomas and transcripts.

The opposite 11 charged have been listed as recruiters, together with seven from New Jersey or New York.

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