|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, APRIL 20, 2010
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
SIX IN COFFEE COUNTY CHARGED IN TENNCARE DRUG FRAUD INVESTIGATION
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – TennCare fraud charges are lodged today against six people in Coffee County in a roundup targeting people who were selling prescription drugs.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), working with the Manchester Police Department and the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office in a six month undercover operation, today announced that six of a total of 13 people indicted have been arrested for selling prescription drugs originally obtained and paid for with TennCare benefits.
“Local law enforcement officials like the Manchester and Coffee County officers have been aggressive in helping us in the war against TennCare fraud,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “By pooling our resources with local officials, we are all covering much more ground and making more progress in tackling the drug fraud problem, especially when people try to use public dollars to finance it.”
Four of the six are each charged with one count of TennCare fraud for selling the painkiller Hydrocodone to an undercover agent:
Also charged is Edward Blackburn, III, 21, of Tullahoma, accused of one count of TennCare fraud for selling the painkiller Oxymorphine to an undercover agent; and, Melba M. Brewer, 74, of Tullahoma, charged with one count of TennCare fraud for selling Soma, a muscle relaxer and pain reliever, to an undercover agent.
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. District Attorney General C. Michael Layne will be prosecuting these cases.
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."