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McMinn County Woman Charged with TennCare Drug Fraud

Tuesday, April 03, 2018 | 11:00am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A McMinn County woman is charged with TennCare fraud in connection with selling prescription drugs she obtained through the state’s healthcare insurance program.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of the McMinn County Sheriff’s Office, today announced the arrest of Betty Jane Russell, 62, of Sweetwater. Russell is charged with using TennCare benefits to obtain the painkiller Hydrocodone, a Schedule II controlled substance, and selling a portion of the drugs to an undercover officer on two separate occasions. The prescriptions were obtained through Medicare Part B which is paid for in part by TennCare.

Russell is charged with two counts of TennCare fraud, one count each of sell and delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance and one count of conspiracy to sell and deliver a Schedule II controlled substance.

“We appreciate the assistance of local law enforcement in fighting the war against Tennessee’s opioid epidemic,” Inspector General Kim Harmon said.  “TennCare benefits are reserved for those truly in need, not for those looking to gain by selling prescriptions on our streets.”

TennCare fraud was changed to a Class D felony punishable by up to four years in prison. District Attorney General Stephen Crump 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, 2,970 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.”