Five People Charged with TennCare Fraud in Northeast Tennessee

Thursday, July 06, 2017 | 11:02am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Five people are charged with TennCare fraud in separate cases out of upper east Tennessee. All five involve using TennCare to purchase prescription pain medication.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrests:

  • Samuel J. Tressler, Jr., 30, of Newport, charged in Cocke County with fraudulently using TennCare to obtain controlled substances by doctor shopping for drugs, which involves going from doctor to doctor in a short period of time to obtain prescription drugs. He is charged with nine counts of doctor shopping to obtain the painkillers Hydrocodone, Oxycodone and Tramadol, using TennCare as payment.
  • Lisa Barnett, 37, of Morristown, charged in Cocke County with doctor shopping for the painkiller Hydrocodone, using TennCare as payment. She is charged with five counts of TennCare fraud by doctor shopping.
  • Sherry Ann Ellison, 38, of Morristown, charged with TennCare fraud for the second and third time in Cocke and Washington Counties. She is charged in Cocke County with three counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain the painkillers Hydrocodone and Oxycodone by doctor shopping. Once she was served with those charges, she was transported to Washington County where she was served with one count of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain Oxycodone by doctor shopping. Ellison was first arrested in April of this year when she was arrested on similar charges in Jefferson County.  
  • Shirley F. Johnson, 80, of Johnson City, charged in Washington County with TennCare fraud for allegedly using TennCare benefits to obtain Oxycodone and later selling a portion to a confidential informant. Payment was made through Medicare Part B, which is paid for in part by TennCare.
  • Margaret Ann McGlocklin, 41, of Church Hill, charged in Sullivan County with fraudulently using TennCare to obtain a controlled substance by doctor shopping. She is charged with five counts of doctor shopping for the painkiller Hydrocodone. 

“Prescription drug abuse is a concern of communities large and small across Tennessee,” Inspector General Manny Tyndall said. “With the help of the local police, we’re sending a message that abusing TennCare will have serious repercussions.”

District Attorney General James Dunn will prosecute the Cocke County cases. District Attorney General Anthony Clark will prosecute the Washington County cases. And, District Attorney General Barry Staubus will prosecute the Sullivan County case. TennCare fraud is now a Class D felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to more than $3 million being repaid to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of more than $163.6 million for TennCare, according to latest figures. To date, 2,869 people have been charged with TennCare fraud.

Through the OIG Cash for Tips Program established by the Legislature, Tennesseans can get cash rewards for TennCare fraud tips that lead to convictions. Anyone can report suspected TennCare fraud by calling 1-800-433-3982 toll-free from anywhere in Tennessee, or visit the website and follow the prompts that read “Report TennCare Fraud.”