1000’s of training nurses within the U.S. may doubtlessly be working with bogus tutorial credentials after federal officers uncovered an alleged scheme at three South Florida nursing colleges. The Division of Justice mentioned Wednesday that the colleges, now closed, allegedly issued greater than 7,600 pretend and unearned nursing diplomas.
The colleges concerned within the alleged scheme embrace Siena Faculty, Palm Seaside Faculty of Nursing and Sacred Coronary heart Worldwide Institute. The Justice Division has charged more than two dozen people for his or her alleged involvement, saying they “engaged in a scheme to promote fraudulent nursing diploma diplomas and transcripts obtained from accredited Florida-based nursing colleges.” Every of these defendants now faces as much as 20 years in jail.
In keeping with charging paperwork, a lot of these concerned within the alleged scheme are from out-of-state, together with folks from New York and New Jersey. The nurses with the pretend levels went on to work in varied settings, together with for homebound youngsters, assisted dwelling services and veteran affairs, and in a number of states, paperwork present, together with Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Georgia, Maryland and Texas.
The alleged schemes befell between 2016 and 2021.
Those that received the pretend diplomas had been capable of take the nationwide nursing board examination after which acquire licenses and jobs in “varied states” as registered nurses (RNs), licensed sensible nurses (LPNs) and vocational nurses (VNs),” the DOJ mentioned.
Markenzy Lapointe, U.S. Legal professional for the Southern District of Florida, mentioned a scheme similar to this “erodes public belief in our well being care system.”
“Not solely is that this a public security concern, it additionally tarnishes the fame of nurses who really full the demanding scientific and course work required to acquire their skilled licenses and employment,” Lapointe mentioned.
Amongst these charged are Burlington County, New Jersey, residents Stanton Witherspoon and Alfred Sellu and Westchester County, New York, resident Rene Bernadel. Prosecutors mentioned the three “solicited and recruited” folks in search of nursing credentials after which labored with Eunide Sanon of Siena Faculty “to create and distribute false and fraudulent diplomas and transcripts” that had been offered to “hundreds” of nursing purposes. These papers incorrectly acknowledged that the aspiring nurses had attended the Broward County nursing program and accomplished their programs and clinicals, prosecutors allege.
The opposite colleges named allegedly did the identical.
American Nurses Affiliation President Jennifer Mensik Kennedy mentioned Thursday that the “coordinated conspiracy” is “disturbing” and “deeply unsettling.”
“Nursing is no doubt a extremely specialised and moral career requiring rigorous and life-long training and coaching to amass unmatched scientific experience. You do not obtain this in a single day,” she mentioned. “There are not any shortcuts in nursing – our sufferers and purchasers rely upon us. It’s each a demanding and rewarding career that requires people to be adaptive to the evolving and sophisticated well being care panorama to make sure the supply of secure and high quality affected person care.”
The actions of these concerned, together with the colleges that had been as soon as accredited, are “merely deplorable,” she mentioned.
“This undermines every thing the nursing career represents and stands for and is in direct opposition to the Code of Ethics for Nurses,” she mentioned. “Moreover, these illegal and unethical acts disparage the fame of precise nurses in every single place who’ve rightfully earned the title of the ‘Most Trusted and Moral Professionals’ via their training, exhausting work, dedication and time.”