|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, MAY 19, 2011
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – A man and woman in White County are charged with TennCare fraud related to the sale of prescription drugs paid for by TennCare, the state’s public healthcare insurance program.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrests of Martin McDonald, 29, and Melanie Byrd, 21, both of Doyle. The arrests are the result of a joint effort with the White County Sheriff’s Office.
McDonald and Byrd were arrested on an indictment accusing them of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance that was paid for by TennCare, while planning to sell a portion of the prescription drugs.
“TennCare fraud involving prescription drugs makes up the majority of arrests we have made since this office was formed,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “In the most recent figures, at least 80% of our arrests are drug-related, either diversion of prescription drugs paid for by TennCare or doctor shopping for prescription drugs, with TennCare footing the bill.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison. District Attorney General Randall A. York is prosecuting.
The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $3.5 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $173 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, over 1,400 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."