Civil Charges Filed In Cosmetology License Scheme

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The man first exposed by NewsChannel 5 Investigates for selling state cosmetology licenses is now facing the loss of his own license.

The state has filed civil charges against Green Hills salon owner Lee Phan.

Phan will have a hearing later this week where the state will ask a judge to suspend or even revoke his cosmetology license.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance launched its own investigation a little more than a year ago after a hearing where Vietnamese immigrants admitted they had bought state cosmetology licenses so they could work in salons doing hair and nails.

When NewsChannel 5 Investigates started asking where and from whom they'd purchased these licenses, they told us it was Lee Phan, the owner of Vie Active Hair and Lee's Nails on Bandywood Drive.

They told us they'd paid him anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000. One woman even showed us a hand-written receipt she says she got from him on the back of his business card.

NewsChannel5 Investigates asked Phan last year, "We've got people telling us you were charging them $3,000 to $5,000?"

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

"And you filled out the application?" we asked.

"Uh, yeah. No, I didn't fill it out. They do it sometimes," he told us.

"And sometimes you do?"

"Yeah, yeah," Phan answered.

According to the charges, the state has signed affidavits from 17 people who say they paid Phan to get them a license. All of these people have since lost their licenses.

Phan now faces the loss of his own license as well as thousands of dollars in fines.

At this point, there are no criminal charges. The TBI opened an investigation more than a year ago, and we are told they're still working on it.

It would seem Lee Phan would have needed help from someone on the inside to get these licenses.

And as we first reported last year, supervisors with the Cosmetology Board had suspected it was a former employee who had handled license applications. When we talked to her last year though, she insisted she'd done nothing wrong.

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