New Jersey Board of Nursing Revokes Licenses of Three Nurses, Suspends a Fourth, for Lying About Having Nursing Degrees or Making Other False Statements to Obtain Licensing
All Four Nurses Claimed to Be Graduates of a Defunct Ohio Nursing School Shut Down
Amid Allegations of Educational Deficiencies
NEWARK – The Board of Nursing has revoked the licenses of three nurses, and suspended the license of a fourth, after discovering that the health care professionals lied about having nursing degrees or made other false statements in connection with their nursing licenses.
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:
- Amankwah, who obtained an RN license from the Board in 2014, falsely claimed she had completed RN studies at OAHC and received an RN degree from the school. That diploma was obtained by fraud, the Board determined. In an Order signed in April 2016, Amankwah agreed to a revocation of her RN license, and a two-year suspension of her LPN license. Her currently-expired certification as a Certified Homemaker-Home Health Aide (“CHHA”) is also suspended for two years. Amankwah will pay a civil penalty of $5,000 under the terms of the Order.
- Pimpong, who obtained an RN license in 2013, apparently attended OAHC and graduated with an RN degree from the school. But in sworn, written statements to the Board, Pimpong falsely represented that she had never applied for, or held, a nursing license in another state, and had never been the subject of disciplinary action by any former nursing employers. The investigation revealed, however, that Pimpong holds a currently-expired LPN license in Ohio and had also applied for an RN license in that state. Pimpong was also the subject of disciplinary actions related to her nursing performance by two former employers in New Jersey. The investigation further revealed that Pimpong had worked as a home-health aide in Ohio from June 2007 to May 2008 without a certification.
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.
- Belony, a licensed LPN, falsely represented to the Board on two distinct occasions that she had completed a course of professional nursing study at OAHC and had received an RN degree from the school. She first made that false claim in January 2015 when responding to a Provisional Order of Discipline the Board had entered against her for her failure to respond to an inquiry concerning her continuing education requirements. At that time Belony provided the Board with a transcript and diploma from OAHC that purportedly demonstrated she had satisfied her continuing education requirements. While the Board found that Belony knew, or should have known, that the courses she had taken did not qualify as valid continuing education because OAHC was not accredited, the Board at that time implicitly assumed Belony had completed nursing studies at the school.
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.