N4T Investigators: Legal battle over dental franchise leaves cus - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Legal battle over dental franchise leaves customer in lurch

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A legal battle between the owners of a dental franchise and the men they say tried to destroy the business is leaving at least one Tucson woman in the lurch.

The fight pits Half Dental, LLC against its former CEO and COO. These men have been accused in a multitude of lawsuits and by individuals who say they failed to perform dental work after they were paid thousands.

Their alleged victims range from a major franchise operation that went after them through legal channels, down to a single mom who says she was scammed out of thousands of dollars.

“It's created a financial hardship for myself and I'm a single mom, and my son,” said Courtney Boyen.

For more than a year, Boyen has been fighting to have more than five thousand dollars returned to her. She had gone to Half Dental on Oracle Road for extensive work on her teeth, including implants.

Half Dental works as a franchise and the owners of the franchise at the time, not the current owners, offered Boyen a $500 discount if she paid upfront. That's when things started to go wrong, she said.

“I wasn't happy with some of the care I had received. They had turned me away a couple of times due to various problems,” she said. “I wasn't comfortable, I wanted to get the money back and I'd just pay if I go if I decided to stay with them.”

Boyen and her parents started pressing Half Dental, even filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

“I couldn't get through to anyone, they kept telling me that Jason was their financial advisor and that he was the only one who could return payments," Boyen said.  "But he was never around. I called multiple times I went to the office multiple times."

Jason is Jason McKew. According to a civil complaint filed in Pima County Superior Court,  McKew is an employee of an Arizona corporation, MBDT Dental. That company ran the Half Dental franchise that Boyen went to last year.

Brandon D’Haenens is the director of MBDT Dental and is also a founder of the Half Dental parent company, as well as its former CEO.

Lesser partners in the parent company accused him and McKew in court of trying to steer business from the franchise for their own profits.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators found the two men have been accused in several cases throughout the country.

According to Washington state records, McKew and D’Haenens operated a Half Dental franchise in Vancouver. The state health department forced the pair to stop running an unlicensed dental practice.

Then there are the Better Business Bureau complaints. Three people wrote to complain to the BBB that the franchise took advance payments but didn't perform the work.

In Nevada, an arbitration tribunal awarded the Half Dental parent company about $6.6 million against D’Haenens and McKew.

According to the Pima County lawsuit, D’Haenens and McKew, along with a licensed dentist Robert Houchin, tried to undermine and dissolve the parent company to take over the growing businesses across the country.

The allegations range from accusations of trying to shut out business partners from franchise deals, to doctoring the company's bank accounts. The parent company also alleged that D’Haenens instructed all five of his franchised dental practices to stop paying their weekly franchise fees.

Former Attorney General Tom Horne is representing the licensed dentist, Houchin, in the Pima County case. He said his client was also a victim.

“We don't think it was ever intended as a real transaction," Horne said.  "It was a sham transaction to help half dental sell to somebody else. So it was kept secret from Dr. Houchin, he never knew until he got notice of the foreclosure."

D'Haenens is in Las Vegas and offered to interview with the News 4 Tucson Investigators in Phoenix, last Monday. But he never arrived for the interview and has not answered several followup emails.

Gregory Hoole represents the current owners against the former franchise owners. Even though Half Dental also lost a lot of money, it's trying to take care of people like Boyen who were victimized by the former franchise owners.

“The company has stepped up and decided to provide free dental care up to the amount of that payment, even though that payment was never made to Half Dental,” Hoole said.

If you have more you'd like us to investigate into the previous owners of the franchise, or anything else you want us to check out for you, email investigators@kvoa.com or call 955-4444.

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