Liberia: Spoon CEO, Stanton Witherspoon, Risks Losing Properties in the US
.... "Plaintiff United States of America hereby files the following Bills of Particulars pursuant to 32.2 (a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedures. The United States provides notice that it seeks Forfeiture of the following properties pursuant in Title 21 United States Code, Section 835(p),” the US Justice Department wrote in court documents.
The US Department of Justice has filed a request with a federal court to confiscate the properties of Liberian media mogul, Stanton Witherspoon.
The bill of forfeiture request, which was filed at the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, seeks to have the properties of Witherspoon and some of his co-accused, located on US soil, seized as a result of their alleged participation in a wire fraud scheme that created an illegal licensing and employment shortcut for aspiring nurses, netting a whopping US$114 million.
"Plaintiff United States of America hereby files the following Bills of Particulars pursuant to 32.2 (a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedures. The United States provides notice that it seeks Forfeiture of the following properties pursuant in Title 21 United States Code, Section 835(p),” the US Justice Department wrote in court documents.
The majority of properties from Witherspoon and his co-accused that might be up for seizure are in New Jersey, where he resides, with the rest located in Florida and Georgia.
Witherspoon, along with defendants Alfred Sellu and Rene Bernadel were recently indicted for their alleged involvement in a fraudulent nursing diploma and transcripts scheme uncovered recently in Florida, New Jersey and New York. The scheme was busted as a result of an FBI operation known as “Operation Nightingale”.
The operation uncovered a massive healthcare education fraud put at a whopping US$114M. The grand scheme involved the distribution of more than 7,600, at a unit price of US$15,000, fake nursing diplomas issued by three South Florida-based nursing schools: Siena College in Broward County, Fla., Palm Beach School of Nursing in Palm Beach County, Fla., and Sacred Heart International Institute in Broward County. These schools are now closed.
But on January 25, 2023, the US government filed a bill of forfeiture to have properties of the defendants that are on US soil seized. The title of the Bill is the United States Bill of Particulars as to Forfeiture and the case number is 22-60005-CR-SMITH.
Forfeiture is the loss of any property without compensation as a result of defaulting on contractual obligations, or as a penalty for illegal conduct.
Prior to the filing of the bill of particulars by the prosecution, Witherspoon’s legal representative, Cllr. Ignacio Avarez, on January 25, 2023 filed a temporary appearance notice to the United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, with the understanding that he (Cllr. Avarez) will fulfill any obligation imposed by the Court relating to the filing and preparation of documents necessary to collateralize any personal surety bond which may be set.
It may be recalled, Mr. Witherspoon is among 24 other individuals who have been charged in the Southern District of Florida for their alleged participation in a wire fraud scheme that created an illegal licensing and employment shortcut for aspiring nurses.
The media mogul is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Spoon Group of Companies which owns several media houses in Liberia, prominent of which is the Spoon TV on which he hosts the popular “Spoon Talk,” a daily talk show with host of other panelists. His other media houses include Spoon FM, Fabric FM, and Super FM and TV.
Quoting three separate unsealed indictments returned by a South Florida Federal Grand Jury and information filed by federal prosecutors, the US Department of Justice disclosed that the defendants engaged in a scheme to sell fraudulent nursing diplomas and transcripts obtained from accredited Florida-based nursing schools to individuals seeking licenses and jobs as Registered Nurses (RNs) and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPN/VNs).
The bogus diplomas and transcripts qualified purchasers to sit for the national nursing board exam and, after passing it, to obtain licenses and jobs in various states as RNs and LPN/VNs.
The indictments described Siena College as a Broward County school licensed by the Florida Commission for Independent Education and the Florida Board of Nursing.
It offers a Practical Nursing Program and an RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program. Eugene Sanon managed Siena College and sold a 50 present share to Witherspoon.
The indictment charges defendants Stanton Witherspoon of Burlington County N.J.; Alfred Sellu of Burlington County N.J.; and Rene Bernadel of Westchester County, N.Y. with conspiring to commit and committing wire fraud. The indictment alleged that Witherspoon, Sellu, and Bernadel solicited and recruited individuals who sought nursing credentials to gain employment as an RN or LPN/VN.
“It is alleged that these defendants arranged with Sanon, who managed Siena College and were charged by information with wire fraud conspiracy, to create and distribute false and fraudulent diplomas and transcripts. These fake documents represented that the aspiring RN and LPN/VN candidates had attended Siena College’s nursing program in Broward County and completed the necessary courses and clinicals to obtain RN or LPN/VN diplomas. In fact, the aspiring nurses never completed the necessary courses and clinicals,” the documents revealed.
The information against Sanon alleges that he and others sold thousands of fake Siena College nursing diplomas and educational transcripts to nursing applicants who used them to obtain RN or LPN/VN licenses in various states and nursing jobs with unwitting health care providers throughout the country.