|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2009
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Shelby County man has been arrested for using TennCare to pay for fraudulent prescriptions.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of Warren Keith Wheeler, 30, of Memphis. He turned himself in to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
Wheeler is accused of attempting to fill forged prescriptions for the painkiller Morphine at a pharmacy in Millington and using TennCare to pay for it. Wheeler faces one count of TennCare fraud and five counts of attempting to obtain a controlled substance by fraud.
"Pharmacy employees across the state are aware of the potential for abuse of drugs like Morphine, and the means people sometimes use to get these drugs for non-medical purposes or for resale,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. "We have zero tolerance for this in the TennCare program and we appreciate the assistance of healthcare providers who are helping us protect the integrity of TennCare.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison. Obtaining controlled substances by fraud is a Class D felony that carries a sentence of up to four years per charge in prison. District Attorney General William L. Gibbons is prosecuting.
The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $2.6 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $159 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures.
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.tncarefraud.tennessee.gov and follow the prompts that read "Report TennCare Fraud."