|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 2012
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE –A Robertson County woman is accused of TennCare fraud for the second time in less than two months. She is charged with using the program to pay for forged prescription for the addictive painkiller Hydrocodone.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of 30-year old Ann M. Choate, of Springfield after a joint investigation with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. She was indicted in Sumner County on three counts of TennCare fraud for attempting to gain possession of Hydrocodone by forgery and using TennCare to pay for the prescriptions. Choate was also charged with one count of identity theft, eleven counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and nine counts of forgery.
Last year, Choate was indicted by a Robertson County Grand Jury and charged with two counts of TennCare fraud. The charges accuse her of presenting forged prescriptions on two separate occasions for the painkiller Lortab, using TennCare benefits to pay for the forged prescriptions.
“We are working to help the public, pharmacies, and local officials understand the crime that results from addiction to prescription drugs, or activity which indicates a person is involved in illegal sale of prescription drugs,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “Communities across the state want to eliminate this crime to keep their neighborhoods safe.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony, carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. Obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and identity theft both are Class D felonies that carries a sentence of up to four years in prison per charge. District Attorney General Lawrence R. Whitley is prosecuting.
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, nearly 1,500 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."