Florida Fake Nursing Degree Scandal

Florida Fake Nursing Degree Scandal

Three Florida nursing schools sold over 7600 nursing degrees and transcripts worth millions in a scheme. It enabled aspiring nurses to become licensed nurses without going through professional training. The plan risks patient safety as nursing training aims to protect the public by setting minimum qualifications and consequences.

In this blog, you will learn about the nursing degree scandal, the nurses involved, and what schools have fake nursing degrees.

What is the fl nursing degree scandal?

Three schools in Florida are charged for selling over 7600 fake diplomas in the Florida Fake Nursing Degree Scandal. The people who purchase counterfeit degrees and transcripts sat for the national nursing board exam and attained a license without taking the required nursing training.

More than 24 people, including school directors, are accused of taking part in that illegal licensing and employment shortcut. An operation was carried out led by the justice department and the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).


The purchasing and selling degrees and transcripts to unqualified individuals is a crime, and it endangers the health and safety of patients and insults the honourable nursing profession. Such fraud disintegrates public trust in the healthcare system.

The scandal enabled people to obtain licenses and jobs in various states as registered nurses and vocational nurses. The schools in Florida which were involved in selling fake diplomas were closed, and the defendant was imprisoned. The department of justice and the inspector general’s health and human services office did an investigation called “Operation Nightingale.”

How many nurses have fake degrees?

Over 7600 people from the US acquired fake transcripts and degrees for which they paid an average of $15000. About 2400 nurses passed licensing exams as practical and registered nurses in several states. A nursing license aims to protect people from harm by placing minimum qualifications and competencies.

A special agent, Omar Perez, said, “Purchasing and selling nursing diplomas to unqualified and willing nurses is a crime that puts the safety and health of patients in danger.” The HHS-OIG continue investigating bad actors who ignore the well-being of others to enrich themselves.

The increased expenses of education tempted people to advance their careers by engaging in illegal activities instead of facing financial challenges and struggling to become nurses. The nurses’ names were not realised, but it was reported that many immigrants live in South Florida.

The fake nurses are not being charged, and the state nursing board is finding and annulling the licences. Delaware has annulled 26 licenses and Georgia 22, while 77 licenses are being reviewed in Washington. The affected states’ regulatory board is investigating the cases and acting according to the law.

Are the 7600 nursing degrees fake?

Yes, over 7600 aspiring nurses bought fraudulent diplomas and transcripts from the three nursing schools in Florida. Many of the nurses had been working in healthcare as certified nurse assistants or other positions, according to special agent Omar Perez Aybar.

The nurses paid between $10000 to $15000 for the fake degrees and transcripts, which made them qualify to sit for the NCLEX exam. About a third of the aspiring nurses, passed the exam, gained a license in different states, and later secured jobs at healthcare facilities. The scandal calls for state nursing board practices that could not detect fake licenses for many years.

The nurses with fake credentials work in pediatric homes, veteran’s hospitals, and assisted living centres in various states, which include Texas, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and Georgia.

What are the three fake nursing schools in Florida?

Three nursing schools sold fake nursing diplomas to more than 7600 aspiring nurses, allowing them to avoid the required training of becoming licensed nurses. Twenty-five defendants, including diploma recipients and school directors, were charged and imprisoned for 20 years if convicted.

Three schools in Florida sold 7600 diplomas worth $100 million. Schools involved are Siena college, Palm beach school of nursing, and Sacred Heart international institute, which are now all closed.

  1. Siena college in Broward country

Siena college is in Broward country, licensed by the state board of nursing to offer a bachelor of science in nursing programs and practices. Eugene Sanon, who runs the college, and three other people were charged with recruiting aspiring nurses.

According to the criminal complaint, Sanon sold 2016 fake diplomas and transcripts, claiming that the students had completed the required training at the college, but they had not. Siena and others sold credentials to aspiring nurses who used them to obtain LPN/VN licenses in different states and secure jobs.

  1. Palm beach school of nursing in palm beach country

Seven nurses obtained fake diplomas from the sunshine academy, Florida college of health, Quisqeya, and Palm Beach School of nursing, all owned by Johanah Napoleon. The seven nurses were licensed in New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, and New Jersey using fake diplomas.

The nurses acquired jobs in nursing homes that took in Medicaid and Medicare patients, where one of them worked at a Veterans Affairs-run home. Ten were involved in recruiting people to obtain fake degrees. Napoleon received large amounts for selling fake degrees and pleaded guilty to wire health care fraud.

The objectives of Palm Beach school of nursing were to prepare students to meet the licensing nursing board requirements to take the exam to work as registered nurses. The applicants used the credentials they purchased to look for nursing jobs throughout the country. Napoleon has pled guilty to committing health care fraud and wire fraud.

  1. Sacred heart international institute in Broward country

Sacred heart international institute is a Broward county school licensed by the Florida board of nursing. The school offered a nursing program to prepare students for employment as practical nurses. The candidates used the fake diplomas they purchased to obtain licenses in different states and obtained jobs as healthcare providers.

According to court filings, Charles Etienne, the owner of sacred heart international school, sold 588 fake diplomas and transcripts with two others. The two other defendants, Gerald Adrien and Woosvelt Predestin completed online classes on behalf of purchasers. Adrien and Predestin are also named in the Siena college case.

How did they find out about fake nursing degrees?

The HHS-OIG, FBI, and the department of justice carried out a multistate operation named “Operation Nightingale” to get the people involved in an alleged scheme of selling nursing diplomas and transcripts. The operation was named after the founder of modern nursing, who developed the first science-based training.

The law enforcement and HHS-OIG executed search warrants across several states, including New York, Texas, Delaware, New Jersey, and Florida. More than 7600 registered and licensed practical nurses looked for jobs with fake diplomas in several states. The certification indicated that the individuals completed nursing training and coursework and acquired licensure. Yet they did not attend classroom or practicals.

Selling nursing degrees and transcripts to unqualified individuals is a crime, and it endangers the patient’s life and insults the honourable nursing profession. The alleged scheme aimed to provide a shortcut for many people to become nurses. The fraudulent credentials were first noted when an audit in Florida found out that the schools involved in the alleged scheme had poor passing rates.

What will happen to the nurses with fake degrees?

Many nurses with fake credentials find jobs in different states, which risks patients’ health. The investigation found no evidence of patient harm due to fake nurses. However, almost a third of the nurses still provide patient care. This fraud scheme was said to tarnish the reputation of nurses who complete the demanding coursework and clinical to obtain licenses and employment.

According to Delaware Nurses Association, some fake nurses are suspected of being affiliated with Delaware and may practice in the state. Delaware was the first state to announce that licenses had been cancelled. Investigators have identified some facilities where the fake nurses might be working and sharing the information with the state board of nursing.

The board of nursing is supposed to act against counterfeit nurses and ensure they are not practising. Forty-six nurses are discounted from working in New Jersey. The division of consumer Affairs cancelled the license of 20 nurses and temporarily revoked 26 others indicated in the “operation nightingale” database.

The nurses will make their cases to the board of nursing to reinstitute their licenses by proving they have acquired appropriate training and education. Participants are being persecuted in five separate cases. In each case, defendants face wired fraud-connected charges, which are imposed when a defendant communicates fraud using interstate electronics. The alleged scheme work in three parts;

  • The recruiters assisted aspiring nurses in acquiring fake transcripts and degrees
  • The qualified fraudulent recipient sits for the national nursing exam to acquire the license
  • After passing exams, the nurses become licensed in several states and get employed as licensed nurses.

Bottom line

The fraudulent nursing degree scandal demonstrates the attitude of healthcare systems. Charges were brought not for patient concern of safety but to protect the nursing reputation and profit interest. Some aspiring nurses with fake credentials work in healthcare systems, risking patients’ lives.

Nursing is an honourable profession that deals with human life and well-being, so you must undergo the required training and education without shortcuts and avoid issues similar to the Florida Fake Nursing Degree Scandal.

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