Posted: Mar 27, 2013 7:13 AM by Janine Reyes
Updated: Mar 27, 2013 10:13 AM
CORPUS CHRISTI -- 6 Investigates tracked down a man accused of selling gift certificates he did not fulfill.
Stephen Johnson admits to selling the gift cards, in which he calls himself an RMT, or Registered Massage Therapist. The state board that monitors the massage industry tells 6 News their agency sent cease and desist letters to the man after recieving 17 complaints about him since 2005, when his license expired.
He may have found a loophole by working at a chiropractic office.
He tells us last fall he sold about 15 gift certificates for massage.
The problem is, there's no such thing as a Registered Massage Therapist, the correct term is Licensed Massage Therapist; the bigger problem is, his license expired eight years ago.
"When were you licensed," we asked Johnson, "It's been a few years," he responded. "Like since 2005," we asked. "Somewhere around there," Johnson replied.
Since then, he's spent some time behind bars, he's moved around a bit and he's offered massage enough times to rack up 17 complaints to board.
They've told him to cease and desist advertising as a massage therapist, he obviously has not. He admits to selling gift cards for massage.
"I was selling them on my own for a couple months," Johnson told us. "Which you're not supposed to do," we asked. "No ma'am," he responded.
He sold them to employees Stephanie and Veronica at the Spohn Credit Union, but they never could schedule an appointment with him. They also did not know that he was not licensed when they purchased those gift cards.
He says he had every intent to fulfill the gift cards, even though, according to the state licensing board, he cannot independently massage.
"Why did you do that," we asked. "I was just trying to make ends meet, just got out of jail just trying to get everything right," Johnson told us.
He can massage at a chiropractors office, but cannot bring in his own clients. He can only service clients the chiropractor assigns him to.
He sold the gift cards last fall, before working for Jeffrey Lewis, D.C., though, and says he's honored some gift cards on his own at Lewis' facility. "They've come in here to get massages that you sold," we asked Johnson. "Yes, ma'am," he replied. Again, that's not allowed, since Johnson himself is no longer licensed.
"So, he's allowing you to use his facility to honor certificates that you sold on your own," we asked. "No ma'am," said Johnson, "its only been a couple of them, I don't even know if he knows about them."
Johnson made a payment arrangement with Veronica and Stephanie, he only made one payment and skipped the next one. He still owes them $300.
But he says he does intend to pay everyone back for massages he did not give.
"I can make payments to whoever else I need to make payments to. They have to be realistic though, I can't come up with $600 right now," he told us. "But, you collected money from them at once," we said. "Yes ma'am I did, but I"m just trying to make it right." We will check back to see if he does that.
The chiropractor told us he thought his staff verified Johnson's license before hiring him. They did not. He says he has not decided if johnson will still have a job after this.
Again, he is allowed to let Johnson massage his clients without a massage therapy license.
According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the most recent complaint about Johnson was made earlier this month.
The TDSHS notified the Attorney General's office and Corpus Christi Police about Johnson.
Do you have a tip, information about a breaking news story, or a story idea for 6 Investigates? Contact the KRIS 6 News Desk at 361-884-6666 or send us an email.
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