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Three Individuals Facing Federal Charges for Participating in a Healthcare Fraud Scheme to Sell Fraudulent Nursing Degrees

FBI Undercover Operations Lead to Purchase of Fraudulent Degrees
Publication date: 
Friday, July 16, 2021

Baltimore, Maryland – A criminal complaint has been filed charging Patrick Nwaokwu, age 50, of Laurel, Maryland; Musa Bangura, age 62, of Manassas, Virginia; and Johanah Napoleon, age 45, of Wellington, Florida with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, 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. 

The criminal complaint was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner; Acting U.S. Attorney Juan Antonio Gonzalez of the Southern District of Florida; Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Elton Malone of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General.

According to affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Nwaokwu, Bangura, and Napoleon conspired with others to commit health care fraud by producing and selling fraudulent nursing transcripts and diplomas, which were used to indicate that various individuals completed necessary courses and clinical hours to obtain medical licenses and practice in the health care field. 

As detailed in the affidavit, Nwaokwu and Bangura owned and operated a nursing school located in Virginia (Nursing School 1).  In 2013, the nursing school was forced to close due to violations of Virginia board regulations.  The criminal complaint alleges that after that time, Nwaokwu and Bangura operated the former nursing school as an entity where individuals could purchase backdated, illegitimate registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) transcripts and certifications.  Nwaokwu, and his associates also allegedly coached otherwise unqualified individuals to pass nursing board exams.  A number of these unqualified individuals allegedly obtained employment at various healthcare providers in the District of Maryland.   According to the criminal complaint, approximately 175 of Nwaokwu’s nursing graduates have applied to the Maryland Board of Nursing.  

According to the criminal complaint, Nwaokwu conspired with individuals in Florida to sell illegitimate nursing degrees from a second nursing school (Nursing School 2) established by Napoleon in July 2016.  In 2017, the Florida Board of Nursing forced the school to cease operations due to a low National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) passing rate.  The affidavit alleges that the cost of illegitimate degrees from Nursing School 2 included preparation classes solely designed to pass the NCLEX and not to provide a formal education.

The criminal complaint also states that investigators obtained a list of Nursing School 2 graduates who applied to take the New York State Board Examination.  Some individuals whose transcripts were backdated are included in this list as having passed the New York State Board Examination. 

Court documents also detail two separate FBI undercover operations in which the FBI purchased fraudulent degrees. For example, in 2020, a confidential source allegedly obtained a fraudulent RN degree from Nwaokwu from Nursing School 2 and in March 2021, an FBI undercover agent purchased a diploma from Nursing School 2 for approximately $16,000. The diploma from Nursing School 2 appears to be signed by Napoleon with a graduation date of June 29, 2018. Nwaokwu, Bangura, Napoleon, and their coconspirators allegedly sold illegitimate transcripts and degrees for between $6,000 and $18,000.

A criminal complaint is not a finding of guilt.  An individual charged by criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings. 

Acting United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner commended the FBI and the HHS-OIG for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Lenzner thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Erin B. Pulice and Catherine K. Dick, who are prosecuting the federal case.

If you have information to report regarding this case or any other case involving falsified medical degrees, please call the FBI hotline: (410) 277-6999.

For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.

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Additional Details
URL
Component
USAO - Maryland;
OIG
Department of Health and Human Services OIG