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Man Arrested In Cosmetology License Scheme

Posted at 6:10 PM, Jul 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-11 12:30:56-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The key figure in a recent NewsChannel 5 investigation has been arrested.

He was the Green Hills salon owner accused of selling fraudulent cosmetology licenses to unsuspecting immigrants.

Dozens of people told state regulators they paid Lee Phan thousands of dollars a piece for state licenses.

Now he's charged with stealing from two of them.

Lee Phan, also known as Pham Tap, faces three counts of theft for taking $5,000 from two Vietnamese immigrants and selling them fraudulent cosmetology licenses issued by the state of Tennessee.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates first exposed two years ago how people working as cosmetologists claimed that they had paid Phan thousands of dollars to get them state licenses to do nails, hair and facials in Tennessee when they did not have the necessary qualifications.

Some told us they paid Phan as much as $6,000 a piece.

One woman even showed us Phan's business card that she told us through a translator he'd given her as a receipt.

"This is a receipt for what?" we asked.

"To pay him to get her license," the woman explained.

We found Phan that same day back in February of 2013 in his salon off Bandywood Drive.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates said to him, "We've got people telling us you were charging them $3,000 to $5,000.

Phan replied, "No, no, not that much."

Soon after that, the TBI opened its own criminal investigation and confirmed what we'd found.

According to the indictment in the case, a grand jury earlier this year found that over the course of a month, Phan repeatedly met with the two victims and collected payments in exchange for state licenses.

Warrants were issued for Phan's arrest back in January, but it took police more than five months to track him down and arrest him July 5th.

He's now facing up to 12 years behind bars.

Metro Police say they arrested Phan at the Nashville International Airport.

As to why, if dozens of people say they paid Phan for licenses, is he only charged taking money from two victims, the District Attorney's Office isn't commenting.

But what we do know is that when the state moved to revoke Phan's cosmetology license, they had some trouble tracking down witnesses and dealing with a language barrier.

During those hearings, though, Phan did admit that he had taken money from at least two people, though he insisted, at the time, it wasn't for licenses, but for cosmetology classes.

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