Alabama Man Charged with TennCare Fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - An Alabama man is charged with claiming that he and his family lived in Tennessee in order to obtain TennCare healthcare benefits. The arrest came a year after the indictment was handed down.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of Kevin Burns, 37, of Florence, Alabama. A Wayne County Grand Jury indicted both Burns and his wife Melissa with TennCare fraud and theft of services in March of last year. His wife was arrested the following month, in April of 2014, but at the time of the indictment, Kevin Burns was serving time for an unrelated crime in Florence, Alabama. He was served with the latest charge after he was released from prison on the Alabama conviction.
Charges against the Burns state that he falsely reported to Tennessee officials that he and his family were residing in Tennessee, in order to be eligible for TennCare benefits, when they actually were residing in Florence, Alabama. His arrest was coordinated with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.
In August 2014, Melissa Burns pleaded guilty to TennCare fraud and theft of services in Wayne County and was ordered to repay TennCare a total of $54,225.30. In addition, she was ordered to serve six months in jail, and afterward will be on probation until 2030.
“We intend to prosecute anyone, regardless of where they live, if they lie to get TennCare health benefits,” Inspector General Manny Tyndall said. “People who cross the state line to gain a benefit available to Tennesseans aren’t just stealing taxpayer dollars; they’re keeping someone else from getting TennCare benefits.”
The TennCare fraud charge against Burns could result in a two year sentence, if convicted. Theft of services over $10,000 is a Class C felony that carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison. District Attorney General Brent Cooper is prosecuting.
The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $3 million being repaid to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $163.6 million for TennCare, according to latest figures. To date, more than 2,314 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."