FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, TN – A Stewart County woman is charged with TennCare fraud in nearby Montgomery County.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of Tonya Michelle Smalling, who also uses the name Tonya Smalling Swearingen, 31, of Big Rock. The Montgomery County and Stewart County Sheriff’s Offices assisted in this arrest.
Smalling is charged with two counts of TennCare fraud for obtaining TennCare benefits she was not entitled to. Smalling is accused of using TennCare to fill a prescription for the painkiller Hydrocodone while planning to sell a portion of the drugs at her residence.
“Medical providers and law enforcement are focused with us on eliminating with this type of criminal activity and the misuse and abuse of the TennCare program, especially when it relates to addictive prescription painkillers,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “The Office of Inspector General is intent on prosecuting every one of these cases to the fullest extent possible.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony, carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. District Attorney General John W. Carney 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, over 1,700 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."