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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, JUNE 9, 2014

 
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
615.532.8560 (OFFICE)

    
     

THREE IN WEST TENN. CHARGED WITH TENNCARE FRAUD

NASHVILLE, TN – Three people in West Tennessee are charged with TennCare fraud in separate cases out of Ripley and New Johnsonville, Tennessee.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of the New Johnsonville Police Department and the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office, today announced the arrests:

  • Ashley D. Forrest, 27, of New Johnsonville, who is accused of TennCare fraud for receiving benefits through the state’s Medicaid program that she was not entitled to receive.
  • Larrisa Bishop, 24, of Ripley, charged with three counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain controlled substances by “doctor shopping,” using TennCare as payment.
  • Sheila Coker, 44 of Ripley, charged with TennCare fraud, possession of the painkiller Morphine with intent to deliver, delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance and delivery of a Schedule III controlled substance.  Coker is accused of using TennCare benefits to obtain the painkillers Morphine and Hydrocodone, later selling a portion of the drugs.

"The fraudulent misuse of prescription drugs is simply no longer tolerated by communities and citizens, and we´re working to eradicate it from TennCare," Acting Inspector General Robert White said. "Healthcare providers and local law enforcement officers across the state are working with us to investigate and prosecute these types of crimes."

TennCare fraud is a Class E felony, carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison. District Attorney General Michael Dunavant is prosecuting the Lauderdale cases and District Attorney General Dan M. Alsobrooks is prosecuting the Humphreys County Case.

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, 2,122 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."