On Thursday, more than 100 people said they paid Quality Denture Care in Bristol Tennessee for services they claim they never got after the owner skipped town.
More than 100 people filed into the Bristol Tennessee General Session Courtroom, all sharing their stories about Quality Denture Care in Bristol and its owner, Doctor Hardev Patel. "The last time I was up there, [the receptionist] said, 'Mr. Kern, I don't know when he'll be back. We'll call you.' Well, they've never called," says patient Donnie Kern.
Kern is one of many victims who says he paid Dr. Patel for dental services he never received. "He made the dentures and the dentures wouldn't fit. Three weeks after he put the posts in, one of them came out," he said.
Kern tells us overall he is out $4,219 for the work. "If you're on disability, what does it mean to you? What would it mean? It means a lot," he said.
Sullivan County District Attorney Barry Staubus tells us they have hundreds of forms to go through. Each person was asked to bring in a letter that detailed their exact situation, along with any type of records they had from the Patel's office. "We've interviewed folks that worked at Quality Denture Care. We've obtained some records. Of course, what we're trying to do is obtain records from all the folks that paid for services and didn't get them," Staubus said.
Staubus tells us Dr. Patel is now in Texas and has since retired, which means he has surrendered his license to the Tennessee Dental Board. We also learned Staubus and Bristol Tennessee Detectives are working closely with the board to build their case. "The sole question I have is, has he committed a crime? The only way to find that out is talk to these people and get information from them," Staubus said.
Meanwhile, people like Donnie Kern who are left without their money and dental work want answers. "If he just did one person that way it might have been a mistake, but to do 100 people that way, no it's not a mistake. That's intentional," he said.
Staubus asked the victims to be patient with his office and investigators, because this case will take a while to gather all the information they'll need.