FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, TN – A Sullivan County is in custody almost a year after he was charged with TennCare fraud.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with assistance from Kingsport Police and the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department, today announced the arrest of Phillip Serpas, 31, of Kingsport.
A four-count indictment returned by a grand jury in June of last year – 11 months ago – charges him with presenting an altered diagnostic imaging report and patient profile for the purposes of fraudulently obtaining prescriptions from a doctor for painkiller Oxycodone and the anti-anxiety medication Alprazolam. Serpas used TennCare benefits to pay for the fraudulent Oxycodone prescriptions. He faces one count of TennCare fraud, two counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and one count of conspiracy to obtain a controlled substance by fraud.
"The Office of Inspector General is working with local law enforcement and medical providers to stop TennCare fraud especially as it relates to prescription drugs," Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. "We are committed to eliminating the incidence of people fraudulently obtaining drugs and letting TennCare pick up the tab."
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison, and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud is a Class D felony, punishable by two to four years in prison per charge. District Attorney General Barry Staubus is prosecuting.
The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $3.5 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $173 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, 2,078 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 log on to www.tn.gov/tnoig/ and follow the prompts that read "Report TennCare Fraud."