By MELINDA J. OVERSTREET
Glasgow Daily Times
Cases are pending in at least two Tennessee counties against Michael and Lana Richardson, and the charges are similar to those the couple face in Barren County.
Michael Harold Richardson, 55, has pleaded guilty in Barren Circuit Court to multiple charges of theft by deception and to practicing dentistry without a license, first offense. His wife, Lana, 52, has pleaded guilty to multiple counts of complicity to theft by deception and to complicity to practicing dentistry without a license, first offense.
The Richardsons’ final sentencing in Barren County is scheduled for Monday. Meanwhile, they were arrested this month in Coffee County, Tenn., and they have a case under way in Maury County, Tenn. The counties are in different judicial districts.
Michael Richardson has a previous conviction in Simpson County, as well.
An October indictment from a Coffee County grand jury said that in March and April 2013, “Lana Ruth Richardson did solicit, direct, aid or attempt to aid Michael Harold Richardson in practicing or pretending to be licensed to practice a profession for which a license certifying the qualifications of the licensee to practice the profession was required, being dentistry …”
Lana Richardson was in court in Coffee County on Feb. 12 for an arraignment, but it was continued until this Wednesday, according to information obtained from the Coffee County circuit court clerk’s office.
Michael Richardson was arrested more recently than his wife, and as of Friday his case file had not yet been prepared. He does not have a court date set, according the clerk’s office.
The indictments were sealed until the time of arrest, but a copy of the indictment would not be available through the courthouse until the file is prepared, according to the clerk’s office.
According to Doug Richardson, chief investigator at the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the county jail, Lana Richardson was booked Feb. 5 and released the same day on a $30,000 cash bond, with 10 percent posted through a bail bond company.
Michael Richardson was booked Feb. 11 and was released that day under the same bail conditions, Doug Richardson said.
Winston Brooks, public information officer for the city of Tullahoma, said in a Feb. 17 press release that the couple are accused of operating a business as a dental provider in the city.
“Investigators of the Columbia Police Department notified Tullahoma Police after a search warrant in April 2013 revealed a possible connection to the Amazing Smiles location in Tullahoma,” according to the release.
Tullahoma Police Department investigator Tyler Hatfield is quoted in the press release as saying: “There was no signage at the office in Tullahoma. And the business had not been in operation for more than a month.”
“Investigators interviewed local individuals believed to be victims, and the Richardsons were picked out of a photo line-up, and other evidence was found that linked them to the victims,” the press release states. “The focus of the criminal operation was in Columbia, and only three Tullahoma victims have been identified.”
Brooks said he believes Michael Richardson is also due in court Feb. 26.
He said announcements have been placed in the local newspaper asking other victims to come forward, but because the business wasn’t really established in Tullahoma yet, he doesn’t believe there will be many more.
A Maury County indictment from Aug. 28, 2013, charges Michael Richardson with 53 counts of violation of license requirement (practicing dentistry without license), a misdemeanor, and 54 counts of impersonation of a licensed professional, a felony. A separate indictment from the same date charges him with one count each of impersonation of a licensed professional and practicing dentistry without a license.
The violation dates range from July 2012 to April 2013.
Lana Richardson was indicted in Maury County on Aug. 28, 2013, on one count of criminal responsibility to impersonation of a licensed professional, a felony, on one indictment, while on another she was charged with 54 counts of the same crime.
They had been arrested there April 17, 2013, and she was released April 19 and he on April 20, both on a $6,000 bond. They were arrested again Oct. 14, and the bond was raised to $50,000, with her being released on the same date and his release on the following day. Additionally, she – but not he – was arrested Feb. 4 and released Feb. 5 on a $1,500 bond, all according to Maury County jail personnel.
Columbia (Tenn.) Police Department Lt. Joey Gideon the first of those arrests came April 17 after a search warrant was served at their business, Amazing Smiles, in Columbia. The warrant was based on the department’s investigation conducted after allegations were brought to their attention by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and one of the Richardsons’ patients, he said. The TBI was aware of the charges pending at the time in Barren County, he said.
“After that, we discovered there were a lot more patients as a result of the search warrant and media coverage,” Gideon said. “We did confirm with the Tennessee Department of Health that Mr. Richardson did not possess any license to practice dentistry.”
The lieutenant said Lana Richardson possessed a type of license that would have allowed her to be a dental assistant, but only with a licensed dentist present.
Once the patient interviews and other investigative work were complete, the case was turned over to the district attorney’s office, and Assistant DA Kyle Dodd is the prosecutor on the case, Gideon said.
Michael Richardson was convicted in two separate cases in Simpson County in 1998, according to court documents.
In one case, he pleaded guilty to 10 counts of theft by deception, three counts of practicing dentistry without a license and one count of attempted theft by deception; in another he pleaded guilty to three counts each of theft by deception and practicing dentistry without a license.
In both cases, he was sentenced to 24 months, but the jail time was conditionally discharged. He paid $125.25 of a fine but $950 in fines was also conditionally discharged, and he was required to make restitution.
The clerk’s office could find no criminal record on any Lana Richardson.
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