FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, TN – A Sullivan County woman is charged with TennCare fraud for the second time.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with assistance from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, today announced the arrest of Kristy Dawn Kindle, 37, of Kingsport. She is charged in an indictment with claiming to be pregnant in order to obtain TennCare benefits. Otherwise, she would have been ruled ineligible for the state’s Medicaid program.
Kristy was being housed in the Sullivan County Jail serving time on an unrelated charge when she was transported to Washington County to be served with the new charge.
Kindle was first charged in October of last year in a Sullivan County indictment accusing her of TennCare fraud, seven counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and perjury. She pleaded guilty to those charges and was ordered to serve three and one-half years in community corrections. In addition, she was ordered to serve 200 hours of community service and ordered to pay restitution to TennCare for services received while she was on the program, along with court cost and fines.
“People who think it’s a simple matter to lie to get healthcare benefits through TennCare are taking a big risk – they could go to jail or prison, have to repay the program and could lose the right to apply for TennCare in the future,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said.
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony, carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison. District Attorney General Anthony Clark 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, 2,096 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."