Bogus nursing schools ripped off hundreds of students for $6 million, state AG charges
BY MIKE JACCARINO DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER Friday, July 22, 2011
Paula Haughton wanted to be nurse since she was a little girl. So when the 49-year-old Brooklyn woman found a school that would be a quick ride from her Canarsie home, she plunked down $6,000 and got to work. Thursday the state Attorney General's office revealed that that school - ILPN on Flatbush Ave. - and a network of others were not properly certified and ripped off hundreds of students to the tune of $6 million.
"My heart is broken right now," said Haughton, a mother of four who moved to the U.S. from Jamaica in 1981. "I'm still trying to get over it. It's too much to handle. My dream is shattered."
State officials said the school mostly preyed on Caribbean immigrants.
"These conspirators intentionally targeted people in pursuit of new opportunities, lining their pockets with others' hard-earned money," said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. In all 11 people were charged for running five fake nursing schools in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. Adding insult to injury, many of the students, like Haughton, put in hours and hours in their studies, attending classes, writing papers and even taking fake tests, officials said.
"It was a lot of work," said Haughton of Canarsie. "A lot of sleepless nights doing the research and studying. I was very, very disappointed to find out that I had wasted all this time, money and energy and everything and it wasn't real." The 11 fraudsters were hit with various charges, including grand larceny and scheming to defraud. Eight were arrested in early-morning raids Thursday. Three others were still being sought. Those charged were, according to the AG's office were: Robinson Akenami, 36 of Woodhaven, owner and operator of Helping Angels Foundation of America (HAFA), which had two offices - one in Brooklyn and one on L.I.
- Jocelyn Allrich, 52 of Elmont, owner and operator of Hope-VTEC in Franklin Square, LI.
- Nadege Auguste, 36 of Brooklyn, owner and operator of Life-VTEC in Queens Village.
- Andre Castage, 54 of Brooklyn, an ILPN administrator who told students the school was accredited;
- Carline D'Haiti, 55 of Brooklyn and Salavatrice Gaston, 56 of West Babylon, LI, who operated Envision Review Center in Brooklyn.
- Anthony Myers, an ILPN who also allegedly vowed the school was accredited.
- Rodye Paquiot, 43 of Plainsboro, New Jersey, of ILPN.
- Carl Lee Sellers, a Hope-VTEC official who told students that they would be eligible to sit for accrediting exam.
- Frantz Simeon, 55 of Freeport, owner and Executive Director of ILPN- Jude Valles, who established the VTEC franchise, received payments for the students that attended the schools in New York and provided false documents to the schools and students, officials said.
The schools were not authorized to operate in New York by the state Department of Education. Haughton, who is now out of work, still dreams of becoming a nurse.
"Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be a nurse," said Haughton. "I used to see them dressed in white when I was a little girl and they looked really nice and I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up. I wanted to help people. I love helping people."
"I'm (nearly) 50 years old, but I'm not giving up," she said.