Two Florida nursing school professionals have admitted to selling thousands of counterfeit diplomas to students, according to recent reports.
The individuals in question, Charles Etienne, President of Sacred Heart International Institute in Fort Lauderdale, and Eunide Sanon, owner of Siena College of Health in Lauderhill, were involved in a multi-million dollar scheme that spanned from South Florida to New York, according to prosecutors.
The fraudulent diploma scheme offered students an “employment shortcut,” enabling them to bypass critical requirements such as clinical work hours and national exams. Etienne and Sanon are among 25 defendants currently facing federal charges for their involvement in the scam.
The network of nursing operators implicated in the scheme is accused of charging students anywhere from $10,000 to $17,000 for a registered nursing diploma. Between 2016 and 2021, an estimated 7,600 students paid a total of $114 million for false degrees, according to court documents.
This case is particularly concerning, as the fraudulent nursing credentials may have placed unqualified individuals in critical health care roles treating patients across the country. Despite the gravity of the situation, however, authorities have noted that students who acquired their diplomas fraudulently may lose their certification but will not face criminal charges.
Etienne and Sanon could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $150,000 and $1.2 million, respectively, for their involvement in the fraudulent scheme. In light of the severity of the charges, it is essential that justice be served, and the public trust in the integrity of nursing credentials be restored.