25 Face Charges Over Fraudulent Nursing Diplomas
25 individuals are facing charges for attempting to create an illegal shortcut around nursing school and accreditation. According to the federal indictment, the defendants engaged in a scheme to fabricate nursing diplomas and transcripts from major universities. These individuals would then get jobs as RNs or LPNs/VNs. The transcripts allowed the individuals to take the nursing board exam. If they were able to pass, then they would be free to seek employment at your local hospital.
The scheme generated nearly 8,000 fake diplomas for Florida-area students. The schools have since been closed.
Why is Florida a hotbed of healthcare fraud?
We have a lot of aged Americans in our neck of the woods. Florida is a great place to retire. Warm weather is easy on the joints. So, our state has become like the elephant graveyard of the Continental U.S. Arizona runs second, if you like dry heat more than wet heat.
So, we have people who make easy targets, have a lot of health problems, and are retirees. They’re easy pickings for fraudsters and Florida has more healthcare fraud lawsuits than any other state right now.
Healthcare fraud prosecutions
In most cases, the federal government will be filing fraud charges against health care clinics, schools, and fraudsters. While every state has an anti-fraud statute, there are divisions of the federal government that handle forensic accounting very well, and hence are specialized to provide work for these prosecutions.
Often, it’s a matter of digging through the books, showing discrepancies, and other accounting arguments. In a case like this, the government usually needs to get an undercover officer through to get a fake diploma. At that point, they have evidence that the illegal conduct was occurring and can use evidence from the sting to prove how the defendants executed the scheme.
In this case, each defendant can face a potential 20 years in prison. While most fraud prosecutions don’t end up near the maximum, one of the major considerations during sentencing is the number of victims. In this case, 7,600 individuals received diplomas from one of the three schools named in the indictment. They then began working in hospitals and healthcare centers across Florida. It’s not clear that any of these 7,600 individuals are “victims” of the fraud.
The next question becomes: How much money did the fraud earn? That’s unclear according to the charging documents. Thus far, no sentences have been set in this case. Sentences can vary wildly for fraud. Typically, the state will identify a ring leader, pin the heaviest sentence on them, and arrange for shorter sentences for those who played smaller roles.
Talk to a Tampa Federal Fraud Attorney Today
The Matassini Law Firm represents the interests of Tampa defendants charged with white-collar crimes. Call our Tampa criminal lawyers today to schedule an appointment and we can begin discussing defense strategy immediately.