Nearly two dozen nurses in Georgia are maintaining their innocence after being accused of buying bogus nursing degrees and fake college transcripts.
On Monday, WSB-TV reported that the FBI notified state investigators that 22 nurses who are practicing in Georgia reportedly acquired their licenses with phony diplomas and transcripts.
Georgia Board Of Nurses Demands 22 Nurses To Surrender Their Licenses Within 30 Days
The revelation prompted the Georgia Board of Nursing to contact those nurses, demands that they voluntarily surrender their nursing licenses within 30 days, according to the outlet.
On Wednesday, an attorney representing five of those nurses, Hannah Williams, told WSB-TV that her clients have done nothing wrong, and that they will not surrender their licenses to work as a nurse in the state of Georgia.
“My clients maintain that they are legitimate,” Williams said.
A recent police investigation found that 20+ practicing Georgia nurses obtained licenses with fake diplomas or transcripts.
The Georgia Board of Nursing has sent them letters asking them to voluntarily surrender their nursing licenses within 30 days. pic.twitter.com/GDX4CePM8n
— Everything Georgia (@GAFollowers) January 31, 2023
The nurses in question are reportedly amongst over 7,600 nationwide who paid $15,000 for the fake diplomas, all of which had been “issued” by three south Florida nursing schools.
Last week, the Department of Justice and FBI announced that they had brought down a $100 million fraud ring that had been operating on a nationwide scale.
Nurses Purchased Degrees & Transcripts Without Ever Going To Class, Per Federal Prosecutors
According to federal prosecutors, the nurses purchased degrees and transcripts without ever going to class.
However, Williams claims that not everyone with a degree from those schools had acquired it through unsavory means.
The schools in question are all real, accredited nursing schools, with Williams insisting that her clients had rightly earned their degrees.
“Look, nobody wants a fraudulent nurse taking care of them or their loved ones. However, in this case what we have are allegations and an investigation. We have to allow that process to play out before we rush to judgment,” Williams said.
Investigators say 7,600 people paid $15k each for fake nursing diplomas. About a third of them are actually practicing medicine. 25 people have been arrested and charged, and three nursing schools have been shut down. pic.twitter.com/hdZuBEizaR
— Kris Anderson (@KrisAndersonTV) January 26, 2023
Letters to surrender their nursing licenses were sent out on Jan. 17. As of Thursday, none of the 22 nurses have done so.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whose office oversees the Nursing Board, called the situation “concerning and alarming” for patients statewide.
“It’s concerning and alarming,” Raffensperger told WSB-TV. “Our job is to make sure that our people in Georgia, our patients know they have credentialed nurses that are practicing there,” Raffensperger said.
FBI Now Working With State Investigators To Revoke Nurses’ Licenses Should They Refuse To Do So Voluntarily
Meanwhile, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Markenzy Lapointe put it bluntly, saying “the fact of the matter is the nursing candidates had done no work for these diplomas.”
Every year, the Secretary of State’s office licenses thousands of professionals across the state, ensuring they have the skills, knowledge, and integrity to serve their fellow Georgians.
Don't wait! Renew your license by January 31st! #ProfessionalLicensing pic.twitter.com/xpJd29qmlq
— GA Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (@GaSecofState) January 25, 2023
WSB-TV reports that three of the accused nurses worked at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.
“Within days of learning of this nationwide scheme, we removed three nurses from patient care at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. Their removal is very unfortunate but patient safety is and must be our primary responsibility at VA,” said VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes.
State investigators are currently working with the FBI to acquire the evidence necessary to revoke the licenses of any of the nurses who refuse to surrender them voluntarily, Secretary Raffensperger said.