List of Florida Nursing Schools Issuing Phony Diplomas in Operation Nightingale Increases to 19

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A recent announcement by the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (NCQAC), now known as the Washington State Board of Nursing, has listed 19 Florida schools that it states are or were involved in the fraudulent scheme investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as “Operation Nightingale.”


What Are the Names of the 19 Phony Florida Nursing Schools?

The 19 schools that NCQAC states were involved in taking nursing students’ money and issuing fake transcripts are:

Carleen Health Institute
Carleen Home Health School II
Ideal Professional Institute, Inc.
Jay College of Health LLC
Med-Life Institute – West Palm Beach
Med-Life Institute of South Florida
Med-Life Institute School of Nursing
Palm Beach School of Nursing
Quisqueya Health Care Academy
Quisqueya School of Nursing
Sacred Heart International Institute Inc.
Siena College of Health
Siena College of Health II LLC
Siena Education Center LLC
Sigma College
Sigma Institute of Health Careers
Sunshine Academy
Techni-Pro Institute
The Enfimye Institute

Some of the “newer” names on the list are owned and operated by some of the same fraudsters involved in the original “Gang of Six.” For example, Jay College of Health, LLC, was owned or operated by the notorious Johanah Napolean, who has been indicted and has been forced to forfeit millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains to the federal government. In reality, we believe there are many more than this.

How Many Have Been Caught and Convicted to Date?

For a list of the individuals who have been involved in the scam and who have been convicted through September 28, 2023, click here.

How Many More Phony Florida Nursing Schools Are There?  Plenty!

We receive calls several times a week from nursing students who have attended “nursing schools” in Florida who state that heir tuition and fees have been taken and they have completed all courses and activities the school required to obtain a diploma but:

a.  The school will not give them their diploma or transcripts or
b.  The school is requiring them to pay more and take more courses than promised or
c.  The school will not approve them to take the NCLEX examination to get a license or
d.  The school and its owners have disappeared, and they can’t get a transcript to transfer.

Why Is All of This Fraud Occurring in Florida?

Why does all of this fraud seem to be occurring in Florida?  It probably is not all of the fraud, only most of the fraud.  We have also heard about phony nursing schools doing business in other states.  But the vast majority of it seems to be in Florida.

Could this be because Florida prides itself in sheltering criminals and con men?  Probably.

Is this because Florida regulatory agencies do not bother to monitor and regulate the schools they approve as they are supposed to.  Most definitely.

Is this because Florida allows the use of shell companies and corporations to routinely defraud people so that the owners can disappear with their money without any consequences?  You know it!

Why do you think the industries of Medicare fraud, Medicaid fraud, and healthcare fraud in general are doing so well here in Florida?

Why doesn’t Florida do something about it?  Because we would lose all of that stolen income that helps support the rich and powerful here, that’s why.

Florida’s history of cons, scams, and fraud goes way back to the real estate salespeople selling Florida swamp land to out-of-state yokels who then moved here only to find the property they purchased was underwater, literally.  And with Cuba only a boat ride away and many friendly Caribbean and South American countries only a direct plane flight away, suitcases full of cash can be spirited out of the country with little trouble.

Are you the victim of a phony nursing school not on the list?

Are you the victim of a phony nursing school not on the list?  Don’t call us; we can’t do anything about these criminals doing this.

Instead, you might consider calling the FBI and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), which is working hand-in-hand with the FBI and the various state nursing boards on these matters.  The NCSBN can get the word out quickly to the states involved.  Tell them you have been victimized by another school that should be part of “Operation Nightingale” and want to file a complaint.

The telephone number for the NCSBN is (312) 525-3600 or (888) 435-8242and ask for the Nursing Regulation Division, Nursing Education Section, or send an e-mail to support@answerpro.zendesk.com or send a written letter explaining the problem to:

National Council of State Boards of Nursing
Attn: Nurisng Regulation Division, Education Section
111 E. Wacker Drive, Suite 2900
Chicago, IL 60601.

The FBI’s main hotline for reporting possible criminal activity is (800) 225-5324, file a complaint or tip at https://tips.fbi.gov/home. Alternatively, and perhaps better, you can contact the Miami FBI Office, which is the one handling the Operation Nightingale investigation:

FBI Miami Dade Field Office
2030 S.W. 145th Avenue
Miramar, FL 33027
miami.fbi.gov
Phone: (754) 703-2000.

To see the Washington State NCQAC press release naming the 19 schools above, click here.

To see the original Department of Justice Press Release on Operation Nightingale, click here.

Click here to read one of our prior blogs on Operation Nightingale to learn even more.


Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Investigations Against Nurses and Nursing Students.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to nurses, nursing students, and ARNPs in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, licensure defense representation, investigation representation, Department of Health investigations, DOJ investigations, Board of Nursing investigations, formal and informal administrative hearings, emergency suspension orders, emergency restriction orders and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.


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DOJ Withdraws Outdated Antitrust Policy Statements For Healthcare Industry; “Safety Zones” Abolished

Attorney and Author George F. Indest III HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

On February 3, 2023, the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) withdrew three “outdated” antitrust policy statements applicable to healthcare markets. These have been in effect and relied upon for decades by those in the healthcare industry. According to a statement it issued, the Division determined that withdrawing the three statements is the best course of action for promoting competition and transparency.

Over the past three decades since this guidance was first released, the healthcare landscape has changed significantly. As a result, the statements are overly permissive on specific subjects, such as information sharing, and no longer serve their intended purposes of providing encompassing guidance to the public on relevant healthcare competition issues in today’s environment.

The Withdrawn Policy Statements.

When the DOJ and FTC issued the Withdrawn Statements, they did so to make healthcare more accessible and affordable. Specifically:

1.    The 1993 Department of Justice and FTC Antitrust Enforcement Policy Statements in the Health Care Area (“1993 Statement”);

2.    The 1996 Statements of Antitrust Enforcement Policy in Health Care (“1996 Statement”) (which revised and expanded the 1993 statement); and

3.    The 2011 Statement of Antitrust Enforcement Policy Regarding Accountable Care Organizations Participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (“2011 Statement”).[2]

The withdrawal of the statements is effective immediately. In place of the guidance, DOJ evaluates behavior on a “case-by-case enforcement approach.”

Key Takeaways For the Future.

The withdrawal of the DOJ’s prior statements establishing information-sharing “safety zones” creates uncertainty around whether the DOJ will now treat exchanges of information encompassed by these safety zones as problematic. Moreover, there is considerable doubt about what conditions must be satisfied for information sharing to be considered lawful by DOJ and the FTC in the healthcare industry and other industries. Therefore, in the future, companies may want to take the following steps:

1. Examine the extent of reliance on the safe-harbor criteria. Companies that relied on now-withdrawn safe harbors to engage in information exchanges (including industry indexes or benchmarks) involving old, aggregated data should reassess antitrust risk using the traditional rule of reason criteria. In addition, companies that relied on the now-withdrawn joint purchasing safe harbor also should reassess risk, even though DOJ did not specifically signal a greater emphasis on enforcement in this area.

2. Re-assess the antitrust risk of information sharing even if the company did not rely on the safe harbor. DOJ’s announcement signals that it will be more skeptical of some factors that traditionally were seen to decrease the antitrust risk of information exchanges, including lack of industry concentration, use of old data, and use of third parties to aggregate data. Accordingly, a reassessment is recommended to the extent a company’s analysis or antitrust policies relied on these factors.

3. Carefully review and revise policies. Companies should periodically review their compliance policies and employee training to reflect DOJ’s emerging guidance on information exchanges.

Click here to fully view the DOJ’s press release to learn more.

Contact a Health Care Attorney Experienced in Negotiating and Evaluating Physician and Health Professional’s Complex Business Litigation, Transactions.

The Health Law Firm provides legal services for all healthcare providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, durable medical equipment suppliers (DME), medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other health care provider.

The services we provide include reviewing and negotiating contracts, preparing contracts, helping employers and employees enforce contracts, litigation and defense of enforcement of restrictive covenants (covenants not to compete), complex business and health litigation, administrative hearings, advice on setting aside or voiding contracts, litigation of contracts (in the state or federal court), business transactions, professional license defense, opinion letters, representation in investigations, fair hearing defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, Medicare and Medicaid audits.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or toll-free (888) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Zaslavsky, Sergei. “DOJ Withdraws Longstanding Policy Statements on Information Sharing and Eliminates Safe Harbors.” O’Melveny. (February 6, 2023). Web.

Berger,Lee.”Tracking Antitrust Agencies’ Pursuit Of Biden’s Labor Mandate.” American Hospital Law360. (February 5, 2023). Web.

Kully, David. Another One Bites the Dust: DOJ Pulls 3 Policy Statements, Leaving Trade Associations Guessing.” Holland & Knight. (February 5, 2023). Web.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620 or Toll-Free: (888) 331-6620.

Current Open Positions with The Health Law Firm. The Health Law Firm always seeks qualified individuals interested in health law. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. If you are a current member of The Florida Bar or a qualified professional who is interested, please forward a cover letter and resume to: PAlexander@TheHealthLawFirm.com or fax them to (407) 331-3030.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of and a registered service mark of The Health Law Firm, P.A., a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 2023 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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