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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, JULY 11, 2014

 
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
615.532.8560 (OFFICE)

    
     

COCKE CO. COUPLE CHARGED WITH TENNCARE DOCTOR SHOPPING

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A husband and wife from Cocke County are each charged with TennCare fraud involving “doctor shopping,” or using TennCare to go to multiple doctors in a short time period to obtain prescriptions for a controlled substance.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with assistance from Cocke and Hamblen County Sheriff’s Officers, today announced the arrests of Terra Keller, 33, and William Thomas, 34, both from Newport. 

Keller is charged in a Cocke County indictment with two counts doctor shopping and two counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. 

A Hamblen County Grand Jury indicted Thomas, charging him with doctor shopping and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. 

In both cases, charges accuse them of using TennCare to pay for the doctors’ office visits or the prescription.

"We are aggressively investigating and prosecuting individuals who are intent on trying to use TennCare benefits to access painkillers and other prescription drugs by doctor shopping,” Acting Inspector General Robert White said. "Many times, people who are doctor shopping are selling the drugs to others, and this is clearly a threat to public safety.”

TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. Obtaining controlled substance by fraud is a Class D felony which has a sentence of up to 4 years per charge.  District Attorney General James Dunn will be prosecuting the Cocke County case and District Attorney General C. Berkley Bell will be prosecuting the Hamblen 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, 2,140 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."