After buying fraudulent diploma, Iowa man worked for years as a nurse

By: - September 22, 2022 3:47 pm

An Iowa man worked as a state-licensed nurse for four years after purchasing his nursing degree from a diploma mill, state officials say. (Photo illustration by Iowa Capital Dispatch)

A central Iowa man worked as a state-licensed nurse for four years after purchasing a fraudulent nursing degree from an alleged diploma mill, according to state regulators.

In January 2018, Enome Massango of West Des Moines filed an application with the Iowa Board of Nursing, seeking a license as an LPN, or licensed practical nurse. At the time, he reported having attended a 17-month practical nursing education program at the National School of Nursing and Allied Health in Virginia. The board approved his application and issued him an LPN license in April 2018.

In June 2020, Massango filed another application with the board, this time seeking a registered nurse’s license. According to state records, he reported that he had graduated from Florida’s Siena College of Health in June 2019. He submitted a copy of his diploma and a transcript showing attendance at the school over a period of 15 months.

Exactly one year later, after Massango successfully completed the National Council Licensure Examination in Iowa, the board issued Massango an RN license.

Six weeks later, a national organization of state nursing boards notified the Iowa board of an FBI investigation into nursing-education programs that were suspected of selling fake diplomas and transcripts, typically for $6,000 to $18,000. The suspects in the case included the National School of Nursing and Allied Health and Siena College of Health.

By the time the Iowa board was notified, the states of Virginia and Florida had long since ordered the two institutions to cease operations.

An Iowa Board of Nursing investigator contacted Massango, who reportedly said he had paid $11,000 to the National School of Nursing and Allied Health. He initially claimed to have completed his coursework at the school in 2017 but could not explain why his transcripts showed a completion date of 2013, which predated the school’s forced closure.

According to the board, Massango also reported paying Siena College $16,000 for his registered-nurse education.

After additional discussion with the board investigator, Massango allegedly admitted he had paid a man named Musa Bangura for the transcripts and diplomas as a “short cut” to completing his education.

Schooling was a one-day ‘review course’

At an April hearing before the Iowa Board of Nursing, Massango reportedly stated he had initially sought a nursing degree from Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa before being “kicked out” of the program for failing the course on mental health.

According to the board, he also acknowledged that his educational program as a licensed practical nurse consisted of a single-day “review course.” As for the RN program at Siena College, he allegedly acknowledged there was no coursework associated with the program, adding that he “basically had to study on my own.”

Board records indicate Massango had to take the LPN exam twice, and the RN exam four times, before passing the tests. At the hearing, Massango reportedly said he was currently working as a “traveling nurse” and was also employed by the Colorado Mental Health Institute.

After the hearing, the board concluded Massango had engaged in fraud when he knowingly purchased fraudulent documents in order to qualify for licensure in Iowa. Massango, the board said, “received little to no classroom instruction and did not undergo any clinical training.”

The board recently revoked Massango’s LPN and RN licenses.

While licensed in Iowa, Massango worked at Valley View Village, an assisted living center and nursing home located in Des Moines. Federal tax records indicate he worked there an average of 64 hours per week in 2019, collecting more than $114,000 in pay as an LPN.

According to federal court records, the U.S. Department of Justice has criminally charged Bangura, Patrick Nwaokwu and Johanah Napoleon with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and conspiracy to make false statements relating to health care matters.

In court filings, prosecutors claim the National School of Nursing and Allied Health operated from 2008 through 2013 as a nursing school, at which point Nwaokwu and Bangura continued to illegitimately operate the business as a place where people could go to purchase fake transcripts and certifications that were backdated to 2013.

The two were also accused of partnering with Napoleon, in Florida, to sell diplomas through Siena College after that school was shut down.

The criminal case is still pending, and no trial date has been set.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.

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