The actions are the result of an investigation into licensees who claimed to be graduates of Ohio American Health Care (“OAHC”), a now-defunct Ohio nursing school closed down for numerous violations of the state’s rules governing nurse education programs.
Registered nurses Swanzybella Pimpong of Newark, Vincentia Amankwah of Cliffwood, Husainatu Bah of North Brunswick, and licensed practical nurse Ivelyse Belony of Irvington, all presented credentials from OAHC in applying for, or seeking renewals of, their nursing licenses.
In reality, Amankwah, Bah, and Belony never received Registered Nurse (“RN”) degrees from OAHC or any other school, and the OAHC diplomas they held were obtained through fraud, the Board determined. For example, Belony purchased a fake OAHC diploma and transcript for $15,000. Pimpong had attended OAHC and received an RN degree from the school, but she lied to the Board about her professional licensure history, including a misrepresentation that she had never before been licensed as a nurse in Ohio, and also lied about her work history, including previous disciplinary actions from two nursing employers. The Board’s investigation into Pimpong also revealed serious concerns about the quality of the nursing education that she received at OAHC.
“These women deliberately subverted our rigorous licensing standards to obtain licenses they were unqualified to hold,” said Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino. “The fraud committed by these individuals potentially undermines the trust we rightfully place in the nursing profession and will not be tolerated.”
“Nurses who practice without the required education or appropriate professional experience are a danger to patients in their care,” said Steve Lee, Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “By stripping these nurses of the licenses they obtained by using sham credentials, the Board has sent a strong signal to the public that it will not tolerate fraud and has demonstrated its commitment to protecting the public from incompetent caregivers.”
All four nurses entered into Consent Orders with the Board to resolve allegations of professional misconduct and fraud that stemmed from an investigation that began last year, when the Board obtained information that Bah had obtained an RN license through fraud.
A check of Bah’s records revealed that in 2013 she had fraudulently represented on her RN license application that she had completed a course of professional nursing study at OAHC, and had been issued an RN diploma from the school. The diploma Bah submitted with her application had been obtained by fraud, the investigation revealed. The investigation further revealed that Bah had failed to prove she had satisfied her continuing education obligations for the 2009-2011 Licensed Practical Nurse (“LPN”) license renewal cycle, despite attesting to the contrary on her LPN license renewal form. To settle the allegations against her, Bah entered into a Consent Order with the Board in December 2015, agreeing to a revocation of her RN license. She also agreed to pay a $1,000 civil penalty and agreed that her LPN license would be suspended for a period of two years or until she submits documentation demonstrating that she has satisfied all of her continuing education requirements, whichever is longer.
Subsequent investigations of other purported graduates of OAHC led to allegations of fraud against three other nurses:
In a Consent Order signed in October 2016, Pimpong agreed to the revocation of her RN license. Under the terms of the Order, Pimpong is prohibited from applying for an RN license for two years. If she does apply in the future, Pimpong would not be permitted to use any diploma or credentials from OAHC, but would instead have to submit credentials from a currently-accredited nursing school acceptable to the Board. Pimpong also agreed to two-year suspensions of her NJ LPN license and her NJ CHHA certification, both of which are currently expired. The Order assessed a $10,000 civil penalty against Pimpong, of which $5,000 will be stayed if she complies with the terms of the Order.
But as the Board conducted its probe of purported OAHC licensees, Belony was called on to verify her education credentials. In response, she reiterated her false claims in a written statement under oath to the Board this past May. Belony has since admitted she did not attend OAHC and had purchased the fraudulent OAHC transcript and diploma for approximately $15,000. In a Consent Order signed last month, Belony agreed to a one-year suspension of her LPN license and a $2,000 civil penalty. Under the Order, she is prohibited from applying for an RN license for three years.
The Attorney General and investigators with the Enforcement Bureau within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation.
Deputy Attorney General Christopher Salloum, of the Professional Board Prosecution Section of the Division of Law, represented the State in these matters.
Any individual who suspects that a nursing professional has obtained a license through fraud by, among other things, purchasing fraudulent credentials, can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.
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