Davidson Co. Woman Charged 2nd Time with TennCare Fraud

Monday, January 25, 2016 | 03:29pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Davidson County woman is charged with TennCare fraud the second time in as many months, with both cases related to misrepresenting information given to the state about her financial obligations.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of Metro Nashville Police, today announced the arrest of 45-year old Joanne Leah Stark, also known as Joanne Moore Shorter, of Nashville.

Stark is charged in Davidson County with TennCare fraud and theft of services over $60,000 in connection with falsely claiming her minor daughter was a member of her household in order to be eligible for TennCare healthcare insurance benefits.

She faced identical charges in November of last year in Rutherford County, and in December pleaded guilty. In exchange for her plea agreement, Stark must repay TennCare $6,206.42 for medical payments made on her behalf. She was sentenced to six years in prison, suspended to six years of supervised probation and was ordered to serve 60 days in jail. The case was prosecuted by District Attorney General Jennings H. Jones.

“We hope those who are abusing the TennCare program are getting the message that we are aggressively pursuing TennCare fraud and making arrests statewide,” Inspector General Manny Tyndall said.  “We have uncovered various schemes that people are using to defraud the TennCare program; by bringing these folks to justice we hope to send a message that we are going to prosecute every case.”

TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge.  Theft of services over $10,000 is a Class C felony punishable by up to six years in prison.  District Attorney General Glenn R. Funk is prosecuting.

The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to more than $3 million being repaid to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of more than $163.6 million for TennCare, according to latest figures. To date, more than 2,512 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 go to www.tn.gov/tnoig/ and follow the prompts that read “Report TennCare Fraud.”