|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, JANUARY 22, 2010
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A mother and daughter from Stewart County are charged with TennCare fraud in relation to using TennCare to obtain fraudulent prescriptions.
Odenthal is accused of eleven counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and one count of TennCare fraud. Charges accuse her of using TennCare to pay for fraudulent prescriptions for the painkiller Hydrocodone, as well as Diazepam – which is generic for Valium – and Phentermine, a stimulant used as an appetite suppressant.
Her mother, Beverly Thomas, is charged with nine counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
"Tennessee taxpayers, pharmacy employees and other healthcare providers have drawn the line on the fraudulent misuse of TennCare pharmacy benefits,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. "We are aggressively pursuing these types of cases to fulfill our mission of bringing an end to this activity in our communities.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison, and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud is a Class D felony, punishable by up to four years per charge in prison. District Attorney General Dan M. Alsobrooks is prosecuting.
The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $2.5 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $171 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, over 1,100 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."