Man charged with illegal dental work in Chesterfield

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – One woman is coming to the defense of a Chesterfield man accused to doing illegal dental work. She says Jose Hernandez was doing a service to the Latino community before he was arrested.

Jose Hernandez could spend a decade in prison for what the health department is calling "sub-standard dental work". Hernandez was facing six charges--three misdemeanors and three felonies. During a hearing today, those were reduced to two felonies. I talked to a woman today who says the Latino community is stunned.

With a friend by her side, Jasmine Osegueda speaks for her community.

"He's not a criminal," she said.

When a grand jury hears the case, she wants them to understand the 53-year-old was helping, not hurting.

"Dental insurance is very expensive. And that's why he was kind of doing it for people who are low on income and they don't have dental insurance," Jasmine said.

In court paperwork, Hernandez says he was a dentist in Mexico. He moved into a Hull Street home seven years ago. Inside is where police say Hernandez set up shop, pulling in about $700 a week.

"He had everything sanitized and everything in order," Jasmine explained.

Jasmine says she knows because two years ago her mom was a patient. Jasmine says cards advertising his "La Dental Lab" were in several Latino stores throughout the county.

In February, police launched an investigation when they say one of his clients came to a dental clinic here in Richmond. Dentists there first told the Virginia Department of Health Professions one woman had "sub-standard" dental work. Police, then went to Hernandez's home where they found dental devices and supplies.

"He's not a bad man. He might have done something that is not legal here, but he was doing something good," said Jasmine.

Jose Hernandez declined to comment today. The two felony charges: doing an invasive procedure without a permit go before a grand jury next month. This is Hernandez's first run in with the law. The attorney for Jose Hernandez says his client is in the process of becoming a legal resident. Hernandez is out on bond tonight.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.