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Florida nursing schools sold thousands of fake diplomas totaling $100M

Three Florida nursing schools sold thousands of fake nursing diplomas worth millions in a scheme that allowed aspiring nurses to bypass the required training to become licensed in the profession, federal prosecutors alleged Thursday. 

Siena College, Palm Beach School of Nursing and Sacred Heart International Institute – all based in south Florida – combined to distribute more than 7,600 fraudulent diplomas worth over $100 million or roughly $15,000 per diploma, federal prosecutors said. All schools are now defunct. 

Twenty-five defendants, including school directors and diploma recipients, were charged in the scheme and each face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Attorneys for defendants were not listed in a federal court database Thursday. 

The Department of Justice along with the Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General carried out the investigation, dubbed Operation Nightingale. Prosecutors said the scheme put patient safety at risk as required training programs exist to “protect the public from harm by setting minimum qualifications and competencies.”

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