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Jury finds nursing school owners guilty of fraud

The owners of nursing schools in Nassau and Brooklyn were convicted Friday of operating a bogus education network that charged students as much as $20,000 in tuition, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

After a five-week trial, a Brooklyn jury found Joceyln Allrich of Elmont, Robinson Akenami of Queens and Salvatrice Gaston of Brooklyn guilty on all charges -- first-degree scheme to defraud and several counts of grand larceny.

Each faces a maximum sentence of 21/3 to 7 years in prison on the top count at a March 21 sentencing.

They were among the 11 defendants accused of setting up five bogus schools and conferring fake certificates, which supposedly would allow students to take the New York State nursing board exam. They cheated more than 100 students, most with low incomes, out of more than $1 million from April 2001 to February 2011, state officials said.

Allrich, 54, owned Hope-VTEC in Franklin Square, while Akenami, 38, owned Helping Angels Foundation of America in Floral Park and Brooklyn. Gaston, 58, was co-owner of Envision Review Center in Brooklyn.

Gaston's attorney, Robert Reuland of Brooklyn, plans an appeal. He said his client was not the school owner and operator and was unaware that the certificates were not legitimate in New York State.

"Her job was to receive money from the students," Reuland said. "Miss Gaston is a nice, older lady who really thought she was trying to help people become nurses."

Akenami's attorney declined to comment. Allrich's attorney did not immediately return a call late Friday.


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