FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, TN – After being on the run for the past seven months, a Franklin County woman has been charged in Rutherford County with falsely claiming dependent children in order to qualify for TennCare healthcare insurance benefits.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, today announced the arrest of Wendy Farrell, 37, of Estill Springs.
Farrell was indicted in July of 2013 in Rutherford County and charged with four counts of TennCare fraud and theft of services. Farrell is accused of obtained TennCare benefits by claiming that her minor children were living with her, when in fact they were not in her care.
“There might be people who forget to notify the state about a change in their situation, such as a new job or marriage, but there are others who knowingly give false information in order to get on TennCare,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “Our job is to find those people who are committing fraud, gather solid evidence for successful prosecution, and take the case to court.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge, and theft of services over $10,000 is a Class C felony, punishable by three to six years in prison. 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 $3.5 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $173 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, 2,052 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."