|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, APRIL 27, 2010
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Tipton County woman and her mother-in-law are ordered to repay over $20,000 to the State of Tennessee for services taken from public programs they weren’t eligible for through TennCare and the food stamp program.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the sentencing of Lana Jo Ralph, 32 and Donna E. Ralph, 62, both of Covington. They are ordered to repay TennCare $11,059.42 and $9,586.00 to the state Department of Human Services (DHS) for food stamp benefits also received by the daughter-in-law, even though she was not eligible.
The two were indicted November of last year for both TennCare fraud and food stamp fraud. The younger woman made false statements to DHS in order to obtain benefits for herself and her three children. The mother-in-law aided and abetted her by presenting false information regarding the younger woman’s husband in order for her to qualify for the benefits.
Both received pre-trial diversion for two years each, which means they will not be prosecuted if they repay the state. Additionally, the defendants were ordered not to participate or receive benefits from either TennCare or the food stamp program for a period of one year.
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."