|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, JANUARY 8, 2009
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Two Franklin County residents – and a woman in Giles County - are charged with TennCare fraud, including a mother and daughter who are accused of selling drugs obtained using their TennCare benefits.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG), in a joint investigation with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, today announced the arrests of Mary Webb Johnson, 44, and Elizabeth Johnson, 21, both of Winchester. In an unrelated case, Kerrion Lane Pardon, 46, of Pulaski is also accused of TennCare fraud.
An indictment charges both Mary and Elizabeth Johnson of selling the painkiller Hydrocodone that had been paid for by TennCare. Both are charged with one count of TennCare fraud, one count of selling a Schedule III controlled substance, and one count of delivery of Schedule III controlled substance. Daughter Elizabeth was also charged with aiding and abetting her mother in her attempt to defraud TennCare. The charges against both the mother and daughter are Class D and E felonies, punishable by up to four years in prison. Franklin County District Attorney General J. Michael Taylor is prosecuting the case.
"The fraudulent misuse of TennCare pharmacy benefits is a serious problem in local communities across Tennessee," Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. "We are working closely with local law enforcement agencies and pharmacies to investigate and prosecute these types of crimes."
In a separate case, Kerrion Pardon is accused of fraudulently obtaining TennCare medical assistance to which he was not entitled through the TennCare program. The TennCare charge against Pardon is a Class E felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Giles County District Attorney General Mike Bottoms is prosecuting this case.
The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $2.6 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $159 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures.
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 log on to www.tncarefraud.tennessee.gov and follow the prompts that read "Report TennCare Fraud."