Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

February 24, 2014

Couple sentenced in dental fraud case

Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — A plea agreement for the couple who operated About Face Dental and Denture Care in Glasgow was finalized Monday at their sentencing in Barren Circuit Court.

The husband-and-wife duo of Michael Harold Richardson and Lana Richardson, who ran the business formerly at 103 Rogers Drive, had pleaded guilty in Barren Circuit Court to multiple criminal charges related to the fact that neither was licensed in Kentucky to perform the services they provided, and many of their customers received inferior products.

The Richardsons were each sentenced to five years in prison and $1,000 fine, but they will not have to serve the time as long as they meet the requirements of a three-year probation.

Michael Richardson, 55, faced 32 counts of theft by deception, $500 or more but less than $10,000; 10 counts of theft by deception, under $500; and practicing dentistry without a license, first offense.

Lana Richardson, 52, faced 32 counts of complicity to theft by deception, $500 or more but less than $10,000; 10 counts of complicity to theft by deception, under $500; and a single count of complicity to practicing dentistry without a license, first offense.

The crimes occurred from October 2011 through July 2012, according to their indictments.

Barren Circuit Judge Phil Patton approved the sentence that was proposed in a plea deal negotiated between Commonwealth’s Attorney John Gardner and the Richardson’s defense attorney Ken Garrett. Under the deal, the couple made a payment of $27,040 when the plea was entered in December to make restitution to all the victims known to the prosecution at the time.

In addition to not violating probation, the Richardsons must pay $100 a month for restitution to the four confirmed victims who have come forward since the initial payment was made and to any who do so during the probationary period. The total additional payments due as of Monday were $2,480.

Each month’s payment will be forwarded right away, Gardner said, and the victims will be paid in the order in which they came forward.

Garrett was not available for comment after Monday’s court proceeding.

If the Richardsons are still paying the additional restitution when the three years’ probation ends, the probation would be extended, Gardner said.

“The commonwealth is pleased to be able to resolve this matter in a way we believe protects the victims of About Face Dental,” Gardner said after the judge imposed the final sentence decision. “And the commonwealth will closely monitor the Richardsons’ probation and seek to revoke the probation if they do not comply with the terms.”

Response to deal

Because many victims were still dealing with troublesome dentures and needed cash to get new ones, Gardner said restitution was his top priority during plea negotiations with Garrett. No one is required to make restitution while in jail and any payments are delayed until a prisoner is released, he said.

Kay Emmitt and her husband, Curtis, received dentures that were unsatisfactory and found that the business had moved when Kay Emmitt returned to get hers adjusted. Kay Emmitt said the plea deal’s resolution was probably for the best, so people who still need new dentures can get them.

“That’s not a cheap thing to do, especially after you’ve invested that much money as a loss,” Kay Emmitt said. “I’m glad he did it the way he did, not so much for our part, but for people who needed to get them replaced but couldn’t do it until they got the money.”

Emogene Garner had mixed feelings about the plea agreement. She understood making the restitution the priority, but she wasn’t sure the punishment should have stopped there.

“I got my thousand dollars back I paid them, and I was tickled to get that back, and I didn’t think I’d ever get that,” she said. “I think they ought to serve some [time]; I don’t think they should get away with it after just paying. They’ve turned right around and done it again.”

Gardner said that for the most part, the victims he spoke with seemed pleased with the resolution.

“I think there are some victims that wanted to see jail time as well, but they were also pleased to receive their restitution paid in full,” Gardner said. “We were able to get the $27,000-plus dollars before Christmas and distribute it to every single victim except for one before Christmastime. … We’re still trying to locate the last victim at this time. He’s been hard to track down at this point.”

Gardner gave the Glasgow Police Department credit for the investigating the case, especially then-Det. Tammy Britt.

“She’s the one who got ahold of this case, investigated this case and brought it to our office,” from which it proceeded to grand jury, Gardner said. “I feel very proud to have worked with Glasgow Police Department to right a wrong in our community.”

The Daily Times requested last week in an email to GPD Public Affairs Officer Julie Anne Williams that Officer Britt be made available for an in-person interview about the case. Williams suggested in her reply a time for the interview Thursday afternoon, but Williams asked in the same email that the Daily Times “submit your questions via e-mail and we will stick to those during your time with her.”

The Daily Times declined to submit questions in advance and told Williams by email that a reporter planned to be at the police department at the scheduled time unless Williams said otherwise.

At the time the interview was scheduled to begin, Williams said GPD was declining to comment on the Barren County case at this time because two cases being handled by other agencies against the subjects were still open. She declined to specify where the cases were, but the Daily Times had previously confirmed that at least two cases are pending against the Richardsons in separate Tennessee counties. There, the business was called Amazing Smiles.

‘Trust your gut’

Gardner said cases such as this can remind the community to be wary.

“In this case, a lot of the victims, after we were distributing the money to them, came in and talked to us and said when they walked in [to About Face], they just knew something was wrong, but they needed the service and they were offering a good price for the service, so against their better judgment, they went ahead and did it,” he said. “I would just say trust your gut instinct and if something doesn’t feel right make sure you check it out a little bit further.”

Kay Emmitt said she’s learned from the experience.

“We felt a little funny about it all along,” she said. “The odd thing was, every time we went, the door was locked. We had to knock, and they would come let us in and then lock the door behind us.”

Lana Richardson was very friendly and outgoing, Kay Emmitt said.

“She was the sales lady and the talker,” Kay said, adding that Lana Richardson would take the patients back into the exam room and get them situated.

“He would only do what he had to do and then he would shoot back out of the room, and then she would come back and say what he thought you needed, instead of him coming back and telling you himself,” she said. “We just thought that was kind of strange.”

Michael Richardson would always have a mask on so they couldn’t see his whole face, and Curtis Emmitt had wondered if the “doctor” was a “germaphobe,” Kay Emmitt said.

“I just know it’s made me wise,” Kay Emmitt said. “I will be very cautious about using an outside lab or anything like that. It may cost a little more to go through a dentist, but you get what you pay for, I guess.”

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