According to NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office, between April 2006 and Feb. 2011, the three defendants and their co-conspirators operated a network of fake schools in Brooklyn and Nassau County on Long Island.
The women would create each of the schools — under three different names in four locations — so that they appeared to be legitimate nursing programs that promised to prepare students to take the New York State Nursing Board Exam (NCLEX) to become Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) or Registered Nurses (RNs), a promise they were unable to keep.
Students, mostly from lower-income backgrounds, paid tuitions ranging from $7,000 to $20,000 and would attend classes for anywhere from 10 months to two years. But when they finished, the documents they received — sometimes issued in the names of a school in Jamaica (the island nation; not the neighborhood in Queens) — were fraudulent and not approved by the New York State Education Department.
“Contrary to what they were told, the students who paid for and participated in the programs were not eligible to take the Nursing Board Exam or become LPNs or RNs,” reads a statement from the AG’s office.
The schools went by the names of Envision Review Center, the Helping Angels Foundation of America (HAFA), and Hope-VTEC. The defendants pulled in more than $1 million from at least 100 different students using this scam.
After a trial, two defendants were each found guilty on felony First Degree Fraud charges, and six counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree. A third defendant was found guilty of those same charges plus another two counts of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree.
Each of the defendants faces a maximum sentence of 2-1/3 to 7 years in jail. They are scheduled to be sentenced on March 21.
“These defendants set up a fraudulent get-rich-quick scheme by targeting people hoping to pursue new opportunities. They lined their own pockets with their victims’ hard earned money, and are now facing significant jail time,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “We thank the jury for their service. Their verdict sends a clear message to anyone looking to profit from fraud: You will be brought to justice.”
Four co-conspirators have already been convicted for their involvement in the scheme. In 2012, two defendants pleaded guilty to Scheme to Defraud (a class E felony) and Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree (a class A misdemeanor) and were each sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison. Last year, one co-defendant who was listed as the owner of one of the fake schools pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one year in prison, while the final co-defendant pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a conditional discharge after already serving more than a year in jail.