Connecticut attorney general widens investigation into Stone Academy

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has widened an investigation into Stone Academy, a nursing school that was shut down in February after failing to address multiple compliance issues. 

The Oct. 23 expansion of the attorney general's investigation was prompted by additional evidence leading to an amended complaint from Mr. Tong's office. The revised document alleges that the owners of Stone Academy "systematically siphoned millions of dollars from Stone, leaving the school financially incapable of living up to its promises," the attorney general stated in the news release. 

Specifically, Mr. Tong cites that while the program was raking in profits, students' NCLEX scores were plummeting. 

"While Stone's nursing exam pass rates faltered, Stone's owners paid themselves nearly $5 million in distributions for 2020 and 2021 alone," the release reads. "Stone's income from student fees increased from $1.8 million in 2018 to over $3 million in 2021. Yet, in many instances, students did not receive the books they paid for, struggling to learn from photocopied handouts instead."

During the same time that its owners' paid themselves $5 million, financial records show that one of Stone Academy's owners, Joseph Bierbaum, bought a $1.4 million, 9,000 square foot mansion and was also paying around $100,000 for three luxury vehicles, the amended complaint states.

"While Stone's owners got rich, Stone utterly failed to provide the education and training it promised, rendering many of its graduates ineligible to sit for the NCLEX licensing exam and obtain licensure," the attorney general's release states. "Many of Stone's faculty were not qualified to teach practical nursing students. Stone provided only a fraction of the 750 hours of clinical experience it was required to provide, let alone the 860 it promised. Stone students could not graduate on time due to a backlog of over 1,000 students waiting for clinical hours."

The next court date for the attorney general's case against Stone Academy is set for Nov. 1.

A separate lawsuit filed by eight former students of Stone Academy also began Oct. 16 in which Mr. Bierbaum gave the first testimony, claiming the state "did not provide us with any depth as to what actually was going to need to be fixed," he said in court.

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