|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14, 2010
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
MARION COUNTY LPN CHARGED WITH TENNCARE FRAUD
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Licensed Practical Nurse in Marion County is accused of TennCare fraud for using a family member’s benefits to pay for forged prescriptions for the addictive painkiller Hydrocodone.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of the 12th Judicial Drug Task Force, today announced the arrest of 33-year old Ellora J. Spears of Jasper. She’s been charged with ten counts of TennCare fraud and is accused of presenting forged prescriptions in the name of a family member for Hydrocodone, which was paid for by TennCare.
“Hydrocodone abuse is a huge problem for law enforcement in Tennessee, but with the help of local officers and providers, we are waging war on prescription drug fraud of any kind in TennCare,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “We appreciate the providers, local law enforcement officials and citizens who provide us with valuable information in our efforts to identify and prosecute TennCare fraud.”
District Attorney General J. Michael Taylor will prosecute the case. Illegally obtaining TennCare medical benefits is a Class E felony that carries a maximum penalty of two years per charge in prison.
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."