FLORIDA – Two Florida residents are among five that have pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy for reportedly selling nursing school credentials that would allow individuals to work as registered, licensed practical, or vocational nurses, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida (USAO) has announced.
According to the USAO, five of dozens of defendants charged in the Southern District of Florida for allegedly participating in a scheme that created an illegal licensing and employment shortcut for aspiring nurses have pled guilty to wire fraud conspiracy.
Krystal Lopez and Damian Lopez, both of Palm Beach County; Francois Legagneur, of Nassau County, New York; Reynoso Seide, of Union County, New Jersey; and Yelva Saint Preux, of Suffolk County, New York, will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Raag Singhal in federal district court in Fort Lauderdale on July 27. Each faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
During guilty plea hearings before U.S. District Judge Raag Singhal, D. Lopez, Legagneur, Seide, and Saint Preux admitted to soliciting and recruiting people who sought nursing credentials that would allow them to work as registered, licensed practical, or vocational nurses.
They also admitted to working with Palm Beach School of Nursing to create and distribute fraudulent diplomas and transcripts representing that the aspiring nursing candidates had attended the school and completed the necessary courses and clinicals to obtain their nursing diplomas. In fact, the aspiring nurses had not completed the courses and clinicals, said the USAO.
Lopez admitted that, as Palm Beach School of Nursing’s Finance Director, she processed applications for individuals who were issued fraudulent nursing school diplomas and transcripts and that each student paid the school $15,000 for the documents. The defendants all admitted to profiting from the scam, the USAO said.
U.S. Attorney Markenzy Lapointe for the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey B. Veltri of the FBI, Miami Field Office, and Special Agent in Charge Omar Pérez Aybar of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Miami Region, made the announcement.
FBI Miami and HHS-OIG Miami investigated, with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, Miami Field Office; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-Office of Inspector General; United States Postal Inspection Service, Miami; and Florida Attorney General-Florida Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Mid-Atlantic Field Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Clark is prosecuting this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Grosnoff is handling asset forfeiture.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov under case number 23-cr-60007. Related cases in the Southern District of Florida are case nos. 22-cr-60111, 22-cr-60118, 23-cr-60005, 23-cr-60010, 23-cr-60012, and 23-cr-60013.