|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, APRIL 20, 2010
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
MCMINN COUNTY WOMAN SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR TENNCARE FRAUD
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A McMinn County woman charged with TennCare fraud has been ordered to serve eight years in a state prison.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the conviction of Kristie E. Smithers, 32, of Athens, who pleaded guilty to three counts of TennCare fraud. She has been ordered to serve four years for the TennCare fraud charges and four years for charges unrelated to this case, for a total of eight years in prison.
Smithers was arrested by the OIG in December 2008, and charged with three counts of TennCare fraud for presenting fraudulent prescriptions for the painkiller Hydrodocone on two separate occasions and using TennCare to pay for the drugs. District Attorney General Steven Bebb prosecuted the case.
“The fraudulent misuse of TennCare benefits is a serious issue but the OIG is cracking down on these cases,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “Crucial to our success is the cooperation of local healthcare providers and local law enforcement agencies.”
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."