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Cosmetologist Takes Fifth In Money-For-License Case

Posted at 6:27 PM, May 22, 2014
and last updated 2015-09-11 12:03:04-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- We are finally hearing from the man accused of selling state cosmetology licenses to unqualified Vietnamese immigrants.

That scheme was first exposed last year by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

State regulators recently filed civil charges against Lee Phan seeking to revoke his own cosmetology license for selling nearly two dozen licenses for as much as $6,000 each.

Phan himself was called to the stand during a hearing Thursday afternoon after some of the people who claim to have purchased licenses from him testified about how it happened.

But more than half a dozen times when he was directly questioned about his involvement in the alleged license for cash scheme, Phan refused to answer, invoking his Fifth Amendment rights.

Phan finally did testify that he had taken money from at least two of the people, but insisted that that was to pay for cosmetology classes in other states. Phan also denied being the owner and manager of Lee's Nails in Green Hills, even though he admitted passing out business cards that said he was.

He also denied knowing or ever having any sort of contact with the former state employee long suspected of being the inside source of the fraudulent licenses.

The defense did not finish presenting its case Thursday. There's no word yet on when the hearing will continue.

The TBI meanwhile is still working on its own criminal investigation in the case.