|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2011
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – A Cannon County man is charged with TennCare fraud for selling prescription drugs paid for through the public healthcare insurance program.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of Mark A. Pless, 20, of Woodbury, after a joint investigation with the Woodbury Police Department.
Pless is charged with one count of TennCare fraud, one count of sale of a controlled substance and one count of unlawfully maintaining a vehicle or dwelling for the purpose of keeping or selling controlled substances. He is accused of using TennCare to fill a prescription for Suboxone, an opiate used to treat addiction to heroin or morphine, and then selling a portion of the pills.
“Citizens of Tennessee can be certain that we are focused on ending prescription drug abuse in the TennCare program, as we are working cases every day,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “With the help of local police like the alert officers in Woodbury, we’re sending a message that abusing TennCare will have serious repercussions.”
The TennCare fraud charge against Pless could result in a two year sentence, if convicted. District Attorney General William C. 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."