The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that 20 defendants have either pleaded guilty or been convicted in U.S. District Court in South Florida for their involvement in a wire fraud scheme related to fraudulent nursing diplomas. The scheme aimed to create an illegal licensing and employment shortcut for aspiring nurses.
The investigation, known as Operation Nightingale, revealed that individuals from Florida and other states were charged in a scheme to sell fraudulent nursing degree diplomas and transcripts obtained from accredited Florida-based nursing schools. These fake documents allowed purchasers to sit for the national nursing board exam and obtain licenses and jobs as registered nurses and licensed practical or vocational nurses.
The fraudulent nursing diplomas were issued by three South Florida-based nursing schools: Palm Beach School of Nursing in Palm Beach County, Siena College in Broward County, and Sacred Heart International Institute in Broward County. All three schools have since been closed following the investigation.
The defendants used these bogus diplomas to obtain RN or LPN/VN licenses in various states and secure nursing jobs, all while healthcare providers remained unaware of the scheme.
The Department of Justice has released the identities of the defendants who pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial for their involvement in the fraudulent nursing diploma scheme. These individuals face sentencing on various dates.
The scheme involved the distribution of over 7,600 fake nursing diplomas, and the defendants associated with each school have been identified. Notable defendants include Krystal Lopez, Damian Lopez, Francois Legagneur, Reynoso Seide, Yelva Saint Preux, Johanah Napoleon, Stanton Witherspoon, Alfred Sellu, Rene Bernadel, Eunide Sanon, Rhomy Louis, Simon Itaman, Anna Itaman, Serge Jean, Ludnie Jean, Cimoyne Alves, Charles Etienne, Nadege Auguste, and Geralda Adrien.
The defendants face charges related to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Sentencing dates range from October 2022 to January 2024.