July 18, 2024

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Florida nursing school operators plead guilty to selling fake diplomas to thousands of students

Florida nursing school operators plead guilty to selling fake diplomas to thousands of students

Two nursing faculty operators in the Fort Lauderdale location have fessed up to peddling bogus diplomas to countless numbers of students who could then stay away from completing a demanding application before taking licensing examinations in what prosecutors say was a multimillion-dollar racket stretching from South Florida to New York.

Charles Etienne, 60, president of Sacred Coronary heart Intercontinental Institute in Fort Lauderdale, and Eunide Sanon, 60, proprietor of Siena Faculty of Health and fitness in Lauderhill, respectively pleaded responsible on Tuesday and final month to a conspiracy to dedicate mail and wire fraud in federal court.

Both equally deal with up to 20 several years in jail but are envisioned to obtain a great deal considerably less time for accepting duty early on, in accordance to their lawyers, Tama Kudman and Mark Lowry. As aspect of their sentencing, Sanon should convert over more than $1 million and Etienne about $200,000 to the U.S. authorities.

According to a single circumstance, Sanon collaborated with company associates in Broward County to market about 2,016 “false and fraudulent diplomas and instructional transcripts to” college students that “falsely represented” they “had done the important courses and/or clinical education to get nursing degrees from Siena.”

In accordance to one more circumstance, Etienne collaborated with people associates in Broward to provide about 588 “false and fraudulent diplomas and instructional transcripts” beneath the same instances at Sacred Heart.

In January, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami rattled the health care field when they unveiled these two instances in addition to three other indictments charging 23 other men and women who had possession interests, labored as employees or played the roles of recruiters for the two nursing educational facilities as well as a 3rd plan, Palm Beach University of Nursing.

The community of nursing university operators, centered in South Florida, illegally charged each student in between $10,000 for a licensed realistic nurse degree and $17,000 for a registered nurse diploma — without demanding suitable teaching, according to federal authorities and court docket data.

The scofflaw educational facilities supplied a “shortcut” for students to avoid using a virtually two-12 months nursing plan demanding clinical function, national tests and certification, though instructors coached them on having the licensing exams to practice nursing in a quantity of states, authorities claimed.

An believed 7,600 learners compensated a overall of $114 million for phony nursing degrees from the South Florida educational facilities and other suspect plans involving 2016 and 2021. Of people, a single-third, or about 2,400 learners, ended up passing their licensing examinations, largely in New York, which imposes no restrict on the amount of instances that learners can just take the examination. Nurses licensed in New York have the capability to follow in other states, such as Florida.

Now, individuals college students who handed the nursing exams may possibly eliminate their certification — even though they will not be criminally billed, in accordance to federal authorities. The FBI said it has notified nursing boards in all 50 states of every single scholar who received a bogus nursing diploma and handed the test.

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Wellbeing and Human Providers-Office of Inspector Basic in Miami, stated that, despite clear community worry, the investigation has observed no hurt triggered by any suspect nurses to individuals so far.

The investigation, aptly dubbed Operation Nightingale, began in 2019 with a idea from Maryland that led to an FBI undercover procedure that initially targeted two Fort Lauderdale enterprise people today, Geralda Adrien and Woosvelt Predestin, who equally pleaded responsible to a conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. They cooperated with authorities and have been sentenced to a lot more than two many years and a few months in jail in 2022.

Adrien owned two private education and learning organizations, Docu-Flex & Far more and PowerfulU Health Treatment Expert services, in which Predestin was an personnel. With each other they schemed with Siena College or university of Health and fitness in Lauderhill, Sacred Heart Intercontinental Institute in Fort Lauderdale and Palm Seashore Faculty of Nursing in Lake Well worth “to promote fraudulent diplomas and higher education transcripts,” according to court records.

Also to begin with specific: The Palm Beach front Faculty of Nursing’s president, Johanah Napoleon of West Palm Seaside, who pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy demand, cooperated with authorities and faces sentencing future Tuesday.

All a few defendants arrived at plea agreements with Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Clark and served investigators acquire the more substantial circumstance, resulting in about 25 arrests in January. Additional arrests are expected in the coming months, authorities reported.