TBI Opens Investigation Into Alleged Licensing Scheme
March 8, 2013 10:40 PM
By Jennifer Kraus Consumer Investigator
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - There's more fallout from a NewsChannel 5 investigation into an alleged money-for-license scheme involving state Cosmetology licenses.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates first reported last week that state regulators had opened their own investigation after we exposed how more than three dozen immigrants got cosmetology licenses based on falsified applications.
Now, NewsChannel 5 has learned that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has opened a criminal case, looking into the alleged sale of cosmetology licenses.
The TBI confirmed that it has just opened the investigation at the request of Davidson County District Attorney Torry Johnson.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates first exposed last week how more than three dozen Vietnamese who speak little English got licenses to do nails, hair, and facials in Tennessee when they did not have the necessary qualifications.
At a hearing last week where the state moved to revoke those licenses, those immigrants told state regulators through translators that they paid a Green Hills salon owner thousands of dollars each and he, in turn, filled out all of their paperwork and got them cosmetology licenses.
One license holder, Thanh Nguyen, was asked by an attorney for the state during that hearing, "How much did you pay him (the salon owner)?"
Through a translator, she answered, "$4,000."
"Yes," she replied.
Another of the license holders, Thuy Nguyen, had a business card from the salon owner and on the backside, through a translator, she told NewsChannel 5 Investigates was a handwritten receipt from the salon owner for $2,000.
"That is a receipt for what?" we asked Nguyen.
"To pay him to get her license," she explained.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates was told that the TBI will be specifically looking at that salon owner, Lee Phan, who we talked with last week.
"We've got people telling us you were charging them $3,000 to $5,000?" we asked Phan in his salon off Bandywood Drive.
"No, no, not that much," Phan responded.
Sources said the investigation will not solely focus on Lee Phan, but also how these licenses were issued by the state's Cosmetology Board in the first place.
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