|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26, 2011
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – Two Davidson County women – sisters to one another - are charged in Rutherford County in an indictment for using TennCare benefits to pay for a fraudulent prescription.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrests of Laura Sweeney, 22, and Katherine Sweeney, 24, both of Nashville. The Sweeneys were arrested after a joint investigation with the Office of Inspector General, the LaVergne Police Department, and the 21st Judicial Drug Task Force.
Charges against the pair say the Sweeneys, along with a co-defendant arrested last year, committed TennCare fraud, possession of a Schedule III controlled substance with intent to deliver or sell, criminal conspiracy to commit prescription fraud, and prescription fraud. The third woman, Mary Carter of Davidson County, was arrested for TennCare fraud last October. All three women are accused of calling in an illegal prescription to a drug store in LaVergne to obtain the addictive painkiller Hydrocodone, which was paid for by TennCare.
“Local police as well as health care providers have joined us in the commitment to eliminate prescription drug abuse, “Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said.” “We are all intent on pursuing TennCare fraud and abuse aggressively and will prosecute anyone caught participating in this illegal activity.”
TennCare fraud and criminal conspiracy to commit prescription fraud are class E Felonies which carry a sentence up to two years per charge, and prescription fraud and possession of schedule III with intent to sell or deliver are Class D felonies which carry a sentence up to 4 years per charge. District Attorney General William Whitesell, Jr. 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."