South Carolina Couple Charged with TennCare Fraud
NASHVILLE – A South Carolina couple is charged with TennCare fraud in connection with misrepresenting their residency in order to obtain TennCare benefits.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of James E. Mink, 65, and his wife, Linda, 65, both of Aiken, South Carolina. The Tazewell Police Department and the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the arrests.
The Minks were indicted by a Claiborne County Grand Jury, and each charged with one count of TennCare fraud and one count of theft of services. Investigators say they gave a false statement about where they live, giving a Tennessee residence. Living in South Carolina makes them ineligible to receive benefits through TennCare.
“We will prosecute people who misrepresent their income, address or employment to gain TennCare benefits,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “Tennessee taxpayers have made it clear they want to end this kind of criminal activity in the TennCare program.”
Illegally obtaining TennCare medical benefits is a Class E felony that carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison. The theft of services charge carries a maximum sentence of up to four years in prison. District Attorney General William Paul Phillips will prosecute.
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 1,600 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.