|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, APRIL 17, 2009
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Dyer County man is accused of using another person’s identity in order to fraudulently obtain TennCare benefits, and a Dyer County woman is accused of aiding and abetting him in the crime.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of Timothy C. Watson, 34, and 56-year-old Sadie Powell, both of Dyersburg. Watson was served the arrest warrant at the Dyer County Jail, where he is currently in custody on unrelated charges.
Both Watson and Powell were indicted by a Dyer County Grand Jury and each charged with four counts of TennCare fraud. The charges stem from Watson and Powell collaborating to obtain TennCare benefits in order to have a way to pay for prescriptions for painkillers, including MS Contin – which is a time-released version of the drug morphine – as well as the painkiller Lortab, and the anti-anxiety medication Ativan. Powell assisted Watson in gaining access to a TennCare enrollee’s benefits.
“It’s a simple message that we are carrying across the state - if you lie, cheat or steal to get drugs or medical services paid for by TennCare, you risk going to jail or prison,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “The odds are against those who commit TennCare fraud as we’ve worked to help providers, local police and service employees so that they are more watchful for indications of fraud.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. District Attorney General Phillip Bivens 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 $165 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, over 920 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.tncarefraud.tennessee.gov and follow the prompts that read "Report TennCare Fraud."