BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Officials announced that three individuals are facing federal charges for selling fraudulent nursing degrees in a healthcare fraud scheme.

Fifty-year-old Patrick Nwaokwu of Laurel, Maryland, 62-year-old Musa Bangura of Manassas, Virginia, and 45-year-old Johanah Napoleon of Wellington, Florida was charged with conspiracy to commit false statements relating to health care matters, and false statements to health care matters, in connection with a scheme to produce and sell fraudulent nursing transcripts and diplomas.

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According to the affidavit, the three conspired along with others to commit health care fraud by creating and selling fraudulent nursing transcripts and diplomas that were used to demonstrate that individuals completed required courses and clinical hours to obtain medical licenses and practice healthcare.

Nwaokwu and Bangura owned and operated a nursing school in Virginia, according to the affidavit. The school was forced to close in 2013 due to violations of Virginia Board Regulations. Following the closure, the Nwaokwu and Bangura operated the former school as an entity where those interested could purchase backdated, illegitimate registered nurse or licensed practical nurse transcripts and certifications.

Nwaokwu along with co-conspirators also allegedly coached unqualified individuals to pass nursing board exams and a number of these individuals obtained employment at various healthcare providers across the District of Maryland.

The criminal complaint also alleges that approximately 175 of his nursing graduates have applied to the Maryland Board of Nursing. The complaint says that Nwaokwu conspired with individuals in Florida to sell illegitimate nursing degrees from a second nursing school created by Napoleon in July 2016.

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The Florida Board of Nursing forced the school to cease operations due to a low National Council Licensure Examination passing rate in 2017. The complaint also states that the cost of illegitimate degrees from the school included preparation classes solely designed to pass the NCLEX and not to provide formal education.

Investigators obtained a list of graduates who applied to take the New York State Board Examination. Some of those whose transcripts were backdated are included in this list as having passed the New York State Board Examination.

Court documents also detail separate FBI undercover operations where the officials purchased fraudulent degrees. In 2020, a confidential source allegedly obtained a fraudulent RN degree from Nwaokwu and in March of 2021, an FBI undercover agent purchased a diploma for approximately $16,000.

The diploma appears to be signed by Napoleon with a graduation date of June 29, 2018.

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Nwaokwu, Bangura, Napoleon, and their co-conspirators allegedly sold illegitimate transcripts and degrees for between $6,000 and $18,000.

CBS Baltimore Staff