Twenty-five people were arrested Wednesday for operating a multi-million dollar nursing scam in South Florida.
The defendants in “Operation Nightingale” are accused of running and recruiting for three nursing schools that have since been shut down: Sacred Heart Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Sienna College of Health in Lauderhill, and Palm Beach School of Nursing in West Palm Beach.
“The deeply concerning allegations at the center of this investigation goes against the very tenets of the nursing profession,” said U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe.
According to the prosecution, the schools prepared and sold fake transcripts to nursing candidates, knowing the candidates would use them to sit for exams, obtain licenses and obtain jobs.
Authorities claimed the schools made more than $114 million by selling over 7,600 fake nursing diplomas at $15k each since 2016.
According to investigators, a third of graduates who received diplomas are actually practicing medicine.
“The most important thing for us was to make sure, to the extent we’re talking about healthcare, is that we stop the bleeding,” Lapointe said. “What do we learn when somebody gets injured? Stop the bleeding. The bleeding here is to stop those schools from being able to put more fraudulent diplomas out in the public sphere.”
The defendants face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of conspiracy and wire fraud.