|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, JANUARY 22, 2010
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Unicoi County woman is charged with TennCare fraud related to prescription drugs.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of 38-year old Christina Bennett, 38, of Erwin. She is charged with one count of TennCare fraud, accused of filling a prescription for fentanyl pain patches, paid for by TennCare, then selling a portion of the prescription. The pain patches deliver a continuous dose of the potent narcotic painkiller fentanyl for a period of three days, and are prescribed for chronic pain when short-acting narcotics and other types of painkillers fail to provide relief. Fentanyl is a drug used for producing anesthesia for surgery and treating pain before, during, and after surgery.
"Using TennCare to obtain and sell strong prescription painkillers is simply not tolerated – not by citizens, pharmacies or elected officials,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “We’re maximizing our efforts to catch and prosecute those who are committing this crime.”
The TennCare charge against Bennett is a Class E felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Unicoi County District Attorney Anthony Clark is prosecuting this case.
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."