A federal prosecutor has accused three nursing schools in Florida of selling more than 7,600 fake diplomas. According to the Department of Justice, individuals who purchased the fake degrees and transcripts were able to sit for the national nursing board examination. As a result, they were able to obtain nursing licenses without ever having taken the required training for the profession.
Over two dozen individuals, including school directors and diploma recipients, are accused of engaging in illegal licensing and employment shortcuts. As part of Operation Nightingale, the Department of Justice and the Office of Inspector General of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG) conducted an investigation.
“The allegations of selling and purchasing nursing diplomas and transcripts to willing but unqualified individuals is a crime that could endanger the health and safety of patients and insults the honorable profession of nursing,” said Omar Pérez Aybar of HHS-OIG. Plaintiffs claim that the fraudulent diplomas and transcripts allowed defendants to obtain licenses and jobs as registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPN/VNs) in various states.
The accredited nursing schools under investigation for allegedly issuing thousands of fake nursing diplomas worth over $100 million (roughly $15,000 per diploma) are located in Florida: Siena College in Broward County, Florida, Palm Beach School of Nursing in Palm Beach County, Florida, and Sacred Heart International Institute in Broward County. Currently, the schools are closed, and each defendant faces up to 20 years in prison.