|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26, 2011
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – Two women in Coffee County are each charged with TennCare fraud in separate cases. One of them has been charged with the same crime in the past.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrests, both involving the use of TennCare benefits to pay for fraudulent prescriptions for painkillers.
Tammy M. Russ, 37, of Manchester is charged with seven counts of TennCare fraud and six counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. Russ is accused of calling area pharmacies to obtain the addictive painkiller Hydrocodone and Flexeril, which is a muscle relaxant and pain reliever. Russ used TennCare medical benefits to pay for the fraudulent prescriptions. Russ was first arrested on November 10 of last year when she was charged in Franklin County on three counts of obtaining controlled substances by fraud.
Christy L. Delaney, 36, of Manchester, is charged with one count of TennCare fraud and one count of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. Delaney is accused of altering a legitimate prescription by adding the painkiller Hydrocodone to the prescription and causing TennCare to pay for the forged prescription.
“Providers, local law enforcement officials and state agencies are simply no longer tolerating this kind of blatant abuse of TennCare, especially when it relates to addictive prescription painkillers,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “We’re intent on prosecuting every one of these cases to the fullest extent possible.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge, and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud is a Class D felony, punishable by two to four years in prison per charge. District Attorney General C. Michael Layne 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 1,300 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."