|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22, 2011
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE - A Madison County woman is charged in McNairy County with TennCare fraud for allegedly lying to the state to obtain TennCare healthcare benefits.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced the arrest of Jalesha Lashae Heard, 21, of Bethel Springs. The U.S. Marshal’s Service took her into custody and she was transported to McNairy County where she was served with TennCare fraud charges. Heard is currently being held in the McNairy County Jail under a $100,000 bond.
An indictment accuses Heard of two counts of TennCare fraud and two counts of theft of services. The indictment alleges that Heard obtained TennCare medical services by falsely reporting the number of minor children in her home which resulted in Heard obtaining TennCare services she was not entitled to.
“It is a simple message that we are carrying across the state - if you lie, cheat or steal to get TennCare benefits, you risk going to jail,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “People who commit TennCare fraud are taking something they are not entitled to, and they are taking it from all the taxpayers of Tennessee.”
District Attorney General Michael Dunavant will prosecute. If convicted, Heard could serve up to four years per charge for the theft of services charge which is a Class D felony and two years for the TennCare fraud charge, which is a Class E felony.
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."