A.G. Schneiderman Announces Conviction Of Two For Operating Fake Nursing Schools In Brooklyn And Queens
Brooklyn Jury Convicts Defendants Rodye Paquiot And Nadege Auguste Of 22 Felony Counts; They Face Up To 20 Years In Prison
Defendants Defrauded More Than 500 Students Of More Than $5 Million
Schneiderman: This Verdict Sends A Strong Message That Those Looking To Profit From Fraud Will Be Brought To Justice
NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the conviction after trial of defendants Rodye Paquiot and Nadege Auguste for their role in a massive scheme to defraud students, as part of his ongoing effort to prosecute fraud in the education industry. Over a period of almost 5 years, the defendants and their co-conspirators operated a network of fake nursing schools in New York City. More than 500 students collectively paid more than $5 million to attend programs that the defendants claimed would qualify them for careers in nursing. However, the certifications and transcripts the schools provided were fraudulent.
After an eight-week trial in Brooklyn Supreme Court, which included the testimony of more than 30 witnesses – 24 of them student-victims – and the admission of more than 300 documents in evidence, a jury found the defendants Rodye Paquiot and Nadege Auguste guilty on all counts. The third defendant in the trial, Jude Valles, was acquitted of all charges.
“These individuals set up a fraudulent, get-rich-quick scheme that targeted people hoping to pursue new career opportunities. Like other fraudsters, they lined their own pockets with victims’ hard earned money, and are now facing the jail time they deserve,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “I thank the jury for their service, and the State Education Department for assisting with our investigation.”
Dr. John B. King, Jr., Commissioner of the New York State Education Department, said, "We are grateful that the Attorney General moved swiftly to prosecute these crimes based on our initial investigation and we are very pleased with the news of today's convictions."
The jury convicted defendant Rodye Paquiot of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a class E felony) and 12 counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a class D felony). Defendant Nadege Auguste was convicted of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree and 8 counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree. Both defendants face a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison. They are scheduled to be sentenced before Justice Joel Goldberg in Kings County Supreme Court on August 12.
Evidence at trial showed that between April 2006 and February 2011, Paquiot and Auguste, together with other co-conspirators, engaged in an elaborate scheme to defraud by operating fake schools in Brooklyn and Queens. They conspired to create and operate entities that claimed to be nursing schools. The defendants then recruited individuals – particularly of lower income – and falsely promised that completing the programs would make students eligible to take the New York State Nursing Board Exam (NCLEX) and become Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) in New York.
Those who enrolled were burdened by significant tuition costs of $7,000 to $9,500. Students spent 10 to 12 months completing the program, only to be issued fraudulent transcripts and certifications in the name of schools, including National Academy in Kingston, Jamaica, that were not approved by the New York State Education Department. Contrary to what they were told, the students who paid for and participated in the programs were not eligible to take the Nursing Board Exam or become LPNs.
The two fake schools run by the defendants in this trial were International Languages and Professional Network (“ILPN”) in Brooklyn and Life-VTEC in Queens. Defendant Paquiot was the Program Director at ILPN, located at 833 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. Defendant Auguste was the owner and operator of Life-VTEC, located at 211-31 Jamaica Avenue in Queens Village.
Paquiot, 46, lives in Plainsboro, NJ and Auguste, 39, lives in Brooklyn, NY.
In addition to Paquiot and Auguste, seven other defendants charged in the Attorney General's 69-count indictment have been convicted for their involvement in the scheme. In February 2014, defendants Salvatrice Gaston, Robinson Akenami and Joceyln Allrich were convicted after trial of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree and Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, among other charges, and were each sentenced to 2 1/3 to 7 years in prison. In 2012, co-defendants Carl Lee Sellers and Frantz Simeon pleaded guilty to Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree and Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree (a class A misdemeanor) and were each sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison. In 2013, co-defendant Carlene D'Haiti pleaded guilty to the indictment and was sentenced to one year in prison, and co-defendant Anthony Meyers pleaded guilty to Petit Larceny (a class A misdemeanor) and was sentenced to a conditional discharge after already serving more than a year in jail.
The case against the remaining defendant charged in the Attorney General's indictment, Andre Castage, remains pending. The charges against this defendant are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.
This case was the result of a joint investigation by the Attorney General and the New York State Department of Education. The Attorney General thanks the New York State Department of Education for its valuable assistance in this case.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Hugh McLean, Lee Bergstein and Milton Yu of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, with the assistance of Assistant Attorney General J. Olabisi Matthews and Legal Analysts Christopher Michel and Mikael Awake. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is led by Bureau Chief Gary T. Fishman and Deputy Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton. The Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau is part of the Criminal Justice Division, led by Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan.
The Attorney General's investigation was handled by Supervising Investigators Luis Carter and John Serrapica, and Investigators Karon Richardson, Elsa Rojas and Herbert Antomez, under the direction of Deputy Chief of Investigations John McManus. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella.