SALEM, Ore. - You want to see a smile from your parents or grandparents, but what if someone took their money for new dentures and disappeared, leaving them toothless?
A local denture maker is in some hot water after two people went to him for help, but never got their new teeth. And even worse, they say he took church money that was earmarked for the dentures.
Ruben loves to sing for church, but sometimes he's too shy to smile. He has no teeth, which can also make eating difficult. "I end up swallowing big chunks of food because I can't break it down," he said.
His friend, Clay Stalnaker, wanted to help. He ran into a man named George Surratt and told him about his friend's troubles.
"He said 'you tell your friend I'm a retired denturist - I've been doing it for 40 years and I'll make him a set for $500,' " Stalnaker said.
They were in luck - Ruben's church had just donated money for his new teeth.
Clay's friend, Anna, also needed help and he said altogether, they paid Surratt more than $300 in down payments for dentures and partials. But the new teeth never showed up.
Clay has been making calls to try to find the denture maker, to no avail. But we were able to track down George Surratt. He told us be phone that he was in a bike accident and lost his customers' phone numbers. He said he will now drive to their houses, because he remembers where they live, and will give them their teeth or their money.
We asked him for information on his claim that he is a retired denturist who worked in the business for 40 years, but he refused to answer.
You do need a license to make dentures in Oregon. The state says Surratt does not have one, and that is a crime, so they are now investigating.