|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, JANUARY 13, 2009
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Three Cannon County residents have pleaded guilty to TennCare fraud after they were arrested in an undercover investigation led by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the Woodbury Police Department. The OIG today announced the convictions of Haskell Merritt, 51, Troy Murphy, 49 and Deborah Waters, 49, all from Woodbury.
All three had been charged with TennCare drug fraud and were accused of trying to sell prescription drugs paid for by TennCare. The charges involved selling the painkiller Hydrocodone, along with two forms of time-released Morphine – Kadian and Avinza – as well as Alprazolam, an anti-anxiety medication sold as the brand drug Xanax.
“Drug diversion – or the selling of prescription drugs on the street – is troublesome to communities across our state,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “And it’s trouble for us all when TennCare is used to pay for the drugs.”
Deborah Waters pleaded guilty to TennCare fraud, sale or delivery of a controlled substance and sale of a schedule II control substance. She was fined $2,000, ordered to serve 9 months in jail and upon completion will be placed on four years supervised probation.
Troy Murphy, pleaded guilty to delivery of schedule II controlled substance. He was fined $3,000, ordered to serve 90 days in jail and upon completion will be placed on four years supervised probation.
Haskell Merritt pleaded guilty to TennCare Fraud. He was ordered to serve 90 days in jail and placed on supervised probation for one year.
District Attorney General William Whitesell, Jr. prosecuted these cases.
The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $2.6 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $159 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures.
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.tncarefraud.tennessee.gov and follow the prompts that read "Report TennCare Fraud."