MIAMI — More than two dozen people have been charged in the South District of Florida for their alleged involvement in a wire fraud scheme that created illegal licensing and curtailment of employment for prospective nurses.
According to three recently unsealed indictments returned by a federal grand jury in South Florida and two information files filed by state attorneys, the defendants engaged in a scheme to sell fraudulent nursing degrees and transcripts obtained by Florida-based nursing schools for jobs as Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practical/Professional Nurses (LPNs/VNs).
The fake diplomas and certificates qualified buyers to take the National Board of Nurse exam and, upon passing, obtain licenses and jobs in various states as RNs and LPNs/VNs. The overall program involved the distribution of more than 7,600 fake nursing degrees issued by three South Florida-based nursing schools: Siena College in Broward County, Florida, the Palm Beach School of Nursing in Palm County Beach, Florida, and the International Institute of the Sacred Heart. in Broward County. These schools are now closed.
Each accused faces up to 20 years in prison.
"Not only is this a public safety issue, but it also tarnishes the reputation of nurses who actually complete the rigorous courses and clinical work required to obtain their professional licenses and employment," the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. Markenzy Lapointe, who added that "such a cheating scheme undermines public confidence in our healthcare system".
Unfortunately, crimes like this happen again and again in this area.
"Healthcare fraud is nothing new in South Florida, as many scammers see it as an easy, albeit illegal, way to make money," said Chad Yarbrough, deputy special agent, FBI Miami. “What is disturbing about this investigation is that there are more than 7,600 people across the country with fraudulent nursing credentials who may be treating patients in critical health functions. Without the diligence and hard work of investigators in this case, the extent of this fraud might not have been uncovered."
The allegations speak for the purpose of a foster license to protect the public from harm by establishing minimum qualifications and competencies.
"The alleged sale and purchase of nursing diplomas and credentials to willing but unqualified individuals is a crime that potentially endangers the health and safety of patients and offends the honorable profession of nursing," said Special Representative Omar Pérez Aybar, Department of Health and Human Services , Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG). "In coordination with our law enforcement partners, HHS-OIG continues to aggressively investigate criminals who so blatantly ignore the well-being of others for fraudulent gain."
Fees related to fraudulent nursing degrees and transcriptsUniversity of Siena.
United States V. Witherspoon, et al. Case number: 23-60005-Cr-Smith
United States V. Sanon, File Number: 23-60013-Cr-Moreno
Billing documents describe Siena College as a Broward County school licensed by the Florida Commission on Independent Education and the Florida Board of Nursing to offer a practical nursing program and a bachelor of science degree in nursing. Eunide Sanon headed Siena College.
The indictment is indicting defendants Stanton Witherspoon of Burlington County N.J. on; Alfred Sellu of Burlington County, New Jersey; and Rene Bernadel of Westchester County, N.Y. for conspiracy to commit and commit wire fraud. The prosecution alleges that Witherspoon, Sellu and Bernadel Individuals recruited and recruited to obtain nursing credentials for employment as an RN or LPN/VN. These defendants allegedly conspired with Sanon, who ran Siena College and is charged with wire fraud conspiracy to create and distribute false and fraudulent diplomas and certificates. These false documents showed that the RN and LPN/VN applicants had attended the nursing program at Siena College in Broward County and completed the necessary courses and clinical studies to receive the RN or LPN/VN degrees. In fact, prospective nurses never completed the required courses and clinics.
The charges against Sanon allege that he and others sold thousands of fake Siena College nursing degrees and training certificates to prospective nurses, who used them to obtain RN or LPN/VN licenses in various states and nursing jobs at healthcare providers. .
Allegations related to fraudulent diplomas and nursing certificates from the Palm Beach School of Nursing.
EE.UU. v. Russ, et al., Fall Nr.: 23-60007-Cr-Singhal
According to billing records, the goal of the Palm Beach School of Nursing was to prepare students to meet Florida Board of Nursing and Licensing requirements and take the national licensing exam to work as registered nurses.
Prosecutors are charging Broward County resident Gail Russ; Cheryl Stanley of Collier County, Florida; Krystal Lopez of Palm Beach County; Ricky Riley of Broward County; Norberto Lopez of Palm Beach County; Damian Lopez of Palm Beach County; François Legagneur of Nassau County, New York; Reynoso Silk from Union County, New Jersey; Cassandre Jean of Palm Beach County; Yelva Saint Preux of Suffolk County, New York; Evangeline Naissant of Nassau County, New York; Rony Michel of Monmouth County, New Jersey; Vilaire Duroseau of Essex County, New Jersey; and Yvrose Thermitus, also known as "Yvrose Thompson," of Union County, N.J., on conspiracy to commit and commit wire fraud. The indictment alleges that these defendants recruited and recruited individuals seeking a nursing license in order to obtain employment as an RN or LPN/VN.
These recruiters allegedly colluded with Palm Beach School of Nursing owner Johanah Napoleon and school officials Gail Russ, Cheryl Stanley, Krystal Lopez and Ricky Riley to create and distribute false diplomas, transcripts and fraudulent claims that the RN -Represent candidates and LPN/VN candidates who have attended the Palm Beach School of Nursing and completed the required courses and clinical studies to earn the RN or LPN/VN degrees. In fact, prospective nurses never completed the required courses and clinics.
Nursing applicants used the fake diplomas and credentials they purchased from the owner and staff of the Palm Beach School of Nursing to obtain multi-state RN or LPN/VN licenses and nursing jobs with involuntary healthcare providers across the country. Napoleon was previously charged with information and pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit health fraud and electronic fraud, aka electronic fraud (Case Nos. 22-60111-Cr-Smith and 22-60118-Cr-Smith).
Fees related to fraudulent nursing degrees and transcriptsInternational Institute of the Sacred Heart
United States v. Jean, et al., Case No.: 23-60010-Cr-Smith
United States v. Etienne, Case No.: 23-60012-Cr-Singhal
According to accounting documents, Sacred Heart International Institute was a Florida Board of Nursing-licensed school in Broward County that offered a nursing program aimed at preparing students for employment as practical nurses.
The prosecution alleges Ludnie Jean of Harris County, Texas; Serge Jean of Harris County, Texas; Simon Itaman of Harris County, Texas; Anna Itaman of Harris County, Texas; Rhomy Louis of Suffolk County, New York; and Nadege Auguste of Broward County with conspiracy and wire fraud. These defendants are said to have solicited and recruited individuals seeking nursing qualifications for employment as LPNs/VNs. These recruiters then colluded with Charles Etienne, owner of Sacred Heart, to create and distribute false and fraudulent credentials and diplomas showing that potential candidates attended Sacred Heart and completed the necessary courses and clinical studies to earn the LPN/VN to obtain degrees. . In fact, prospective nurses never completed the required courses and clinics. Etienne is accused of conspiring to commit wire fraud information.
Nursing candidates used the fake degrees and credentials they purchased from Sacred Heart to obtain multi-state LPN/VN licenses and nursing jobs with involuntary healthcare providers across the country.
United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Markenzy Lapointe; Deputy Special Agent Chad Yarbrough, FBI, Miami Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Omar Pérez Aybar, HHS-OIG, made the announcement.
FBI Miami and HHS-OIG Miami investigated these cases. Valuable assistance was provided by Homeland Security Investigations, Miami Field Office; US Department of Veterans Affairs - Office of the Inspector General; United States Postal Inspection, Miami; and Attorney General of the Florida-Florida Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Mid-Atlantic Field Office. Assistant US Attorney Christopher J. Clark is prosecuting this case and Assistant US Attorney Nicole Grosnoff is handling the forfeiture. This case is being pursued in connection with a related criminal matter in the County of Maryland.
For information and related court documents, visit the District Court for the Southern District of Florida's website atwww.flsd.uscourts.govdas enhttp://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov
Click here to access billing records.