Five Maryland, Virginia and Florida residents have been hit with federal charges related to the production and sale of fraudulent nursing transcripts and diplomas, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced late last week.
Releases from the DOJ’s Maryland and Southern Florida districts outlined two related investigations in which the defendants would allegedly sell individuals a nursing degree from a school that was either on probation or closed for approximately $16,000.
Some of the defendants and their coconspirators were also alleged to sell illegitimate transcripts and degrees for between $6,000 and $18,000, the DOJ said.
According to a complaint filed in the District of Maryland on Aug. 8, approximately 175 individuals aided by the defendants and their associates applied to the Maryland Board of Nursing. Others were allegedly encouraged to take the New York State Board Examination and passed, the DOJ said.
“A number of these unqualified individuals allegedly obtained employment at various healthcare providers in the District of Maryland,” the DOJ said in a statement.
Patrick Nwaokwu of Maryland, Musa Bangure of Virginia and Johannah Napoleon of Florida were named as defendants in the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. They are charged with conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud, conspiracy to commit false statements related to healthcare matters and false statements to healthcare matters, according to the complaint.
Nwaokwu and Bangura had owned and operated a Virginia nursing school that was closed in 2013, according to the complaint. After it was closed due to board regulation violations, the pair allegedly used the school to sell their backdated transcripts and certifications. They also allegedly coached “otherwise unqualified” individuals on how to pass nursing board exams, according to the DOJ.
Additionally, the pair allegedly conspired with Napoleon, who operated a school in Florida that was closed in 2017, to sell illegitimate degrees and prepare for licensure examinations. The DOJ said that the FBI was able to purchase these fraudulent degrees in two separate undercover operations.
Geralda Adrien and Woosvelt Predestin, both of Florida, were each charged with one count of conspiring to commit mail fraud and conspiring to commit wire fraud in a related case filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. They face up to 20 years in federal prison for each count.
The two operated a company that allegedly procured fraudulent nursing diplomas and transcripts from two Florida schools that were either closed or on probation. The complaint detailed how confidential sources and an undercover FBI agent were able to purchase the degrees, were offered coaching by the defendants and eventually receive a nursing license.
Both cases are being prosecuted by U.S. attorneys.