|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2012
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, TN – A Rutherford County woman is charged with TennCare fraud for apparently using the healthcare insurance program to obtain prescription drugs, which she later sold.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of Vanessa Wilson, 40, of Smyrna, after a joint investigation with the Smyrna Police Department Narcotics Division. She’s charged with TennCare fraud, two counts of sale of Schedule IV controlled substance, and sale of a Schedule III drug in or near a school zone. Charges accuse her of using TennCare benefits to obtain the painkiller Hydrocodone, then selling the drugs within 1,000 feet of a school. In addition to selling drugs paid for by TennCare, she also is charged with selling the anti-anxiety medication Alprazolam.
“Selling prescription drugs paid for by the state’s TennCare program is illegal, but compounded when the sale takes place near children in a school building,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “Tennesseans deserve to have a healthcare insurance program free of this criminal activity, and we’re intent on aggressively investigating and prosecuting each case.”
If convicted, Wilson could be sentenced up to six years in prison on the charges against her, which are Class C, Class D and Class E felonies. Rutherford County District Attorney General William C. Whitesell, Jr. 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, over 1,700 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."