|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2010
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Three people from middle Tennessee are charged today with TennCare fraud. A man and woman in Williamson County were charged together, and a separate case in Davidson County involved a local woman charged with TennCare fraud and identity theft.
In the Williamson County case, Sewell Martin, Jr., is accused of using forged prescriptions and another person’s identity in order to obtain TennCare benefits, and Loretta Parker is accused of aiding and abetting him in the crime. Both Martin and Parker were indicted by a Williamson County Grand Jury and each charged with TennCare fraud. The charges stem from Martin and Parker collaborating to obtain TennCare benefits in order to have a way to pay for forged prescriptions for the painkiller Hydrocodone. Parker assisted Martin in gaining access to a TennCare enrollee’s benefits.
In a separate case, Candace Bennett was served an arrest warrant and charged with three counts of TennCare fraud, four counts of prescription drug forgery and three counts of identity theft. Bennett allegedly used TennCare to pay for fraudulent prescriptions for Lortab. Bennett’s arrest was coordinated with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.
“It’s a simple message that we are carrying across the state - if you lie, cheat or steal to get drugs or medical services paid for by TennCare, you risk going to jail or prison,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “The odds are against those who commit TennCare fraud as we’ve worked to help providers, local police and service employees so that they are more watchful for indications of fraud.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony, carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. Attempting to obtain a controlled substance by fraud and identity theft both are Class D felonies that carries a sentence of up to four years in prison per charge. District Attorney General Victor “Tory” S. Johnson is prosecuting Candice Bennett’s case. District Attorney General Kim R. Helper will be prosecuting the Williamson County cases.
"Our mission is to protect the TennCare program, by stopping fraud and abuse, especially in the area of prescription drugs," Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “Local law enforcement officers have been incredibly helpful to the OIG with catching people who are selling prescription drugs obtained through TennCare.”
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 up to four years in prison 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 1,100 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."