Lincoln Co. Woman Charged with TennCare Fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Lincoln County woman is charged with TennCare drug fraud in connection with allegedly selling drugs obtained through TennCare healthcare insurance benefits.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), in a joint effort with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, today announced the arrest of Amy Wharton, 40, of Fayetteville, TN. She’s charged with one count of TennCare Fraud, a class D felony.
An indictment accuses Wharton of knowingly using TennCare benefits to obtain the anti-anxiety medication Alprazolam, also known as Xanax, then selling a portion of the drug to a confidential informant.
“The OIG would like to recognize the joint effort of the Lincoln County Sherriff’s Department and stress the importance of thwarting individuals from abusing the TennCare program,” Inspector Kim Harmon said. “We hope to continue these strong established relationships with local authorities to ensure that dangerous drugs are kept off the streets of local communities.”
If convicted, Wharton could face penalties of up to a maximum of 12 years in prison for the charge. The case is being prosecuted by District Attorney General Robert Carter of Lincoln County.
The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated over 5,760 criminal cases leading to more than $10.8 million ordered in restitution to TennCare. This has helped lead to a total estimated cost avoidance of more than $163.6 million for TennCare, according to the latest figures. To date, 3,143 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 or by logging on to www.tn.gov/oig/ and following the prompts that read “Report TennCare Fraud.”