|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2008
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE– In separate incidents in Anderson County, a woman and a man have each been charged with TennCare fraud for a third time.
Strange was indicted by an Anderson County Grand Jury on two counts of TennCare fraud and one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. Strange presented an Oak Ridge pharmacy with forged prescriptions for the painkiller Hydrocodone and Clonidine HCL, a drug used to treat methadone withdrawal. He used TennCare to pay for the prescriptions.
Strange was indicted in June of this year in Loudon County on three counts of TennCare fraud and three counts of identity theft – and he was charged again in September in Knox County with one count of TennCare fraud and four counts of forgery. In all these incidents, Strange was using TennCare benefits to pay for forged prescriptions of Ultram, a narcotic-like painkiller, and the sleeping pill Lunesta.
Separately, Lois Jeanne Watson was indicted in Anderson and Knox Counties. In Anderson County, Watson was charged with two counts of TennCare fraud and two counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud for presenting a pharmacy with a forged prescription for the painkiller Oxycodone, using TennCare to pay for the medication. In Knox County, Watson was charged with six counts of TennCare fraud, two counts of acquiring or obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, for presenting forged prescriptions for the painkiller Percocet, using anther person’s TennCare card as payment.
Watson was first arrested this past January on charges in Morgan for TennCare fraud, identity theft, and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud for using the personal ID of a TennCare member to obtain a prescription for Percocet.
“The prescription drug abuse problem is a target of law enforcement and health care providers in communities across Tennessee,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “We have zero tolerance for people who use TennCare to support prescription drug abuse, and we appreciate the hard work of local police agencies assisting us in winning the war against TennCare fraud.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years per charge in prison. District Attorney General David Clark is prosecuting the Anderson County cases. District Attorney General Randall Nichols will seek prosecution on the Knox County Case.
The OIG, a law enforcement agency separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has worked cases leading to the arrest of over 800 individuals for TennCare fraud, with nearly $1 million paid in restitution to TennCare, and total estimated cost avoidance in TennCare of over $122 million, 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."