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Rutherford Co. Woman Charged with TennCare Fraud

Tuesday, September 09, 2014 | 09:24am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Rutherford County woman is charged with TennCare fraud for falsely reporting her income in order to obtain healthcare insurance benefits through the state program.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with assistance from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, today announced the arrest of Sharon Lake, 43, of Murfreesboro.  She is charged with two counts of TennCare fraud and two counts of theft of services in connection with reporting her income to the state in order to obtain TennCare benefits for her children.

“It’s a simple message that we are carrying across the state - people who lie, cheat or steal to get TennCare benefits risk going to jail or prison,” Acting Inspector General Lawrence S. Saylor, Jr., said. “People who commit TennCare fraud are taking something they’re not entitled to, and taxpayers pick up the tab.”

TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge.  Theft of services over $1,000 is a Class D felony punishable by two to four years in prison per charge. District Attorney General Jennings H. Jones is prosecuting.

The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $5 million being repaid to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $176 million for TennCare, according to latest figures.  To date, 2,182 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."

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