FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, TN – A Sullivan County woman is charged with TennCare fraud for using the program to obtain prescription drugs, which she’s accused of subsequently selling.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) assisted the Bristol Police Department in the arrest of Deborah L. Arnold, 56, of Bristol.
A Sullivan County indictment accused Arnold of TennCare fraud, along with sale and delivery of Suboxone, a drug used to treat heroin addiction, within 1000 feet of a park, sale and delivery of the same drug within 1000 feet of a child care agency, and three additional charges of selling Suboxone along with three counts of delivery of the drug and another count of criminal conspiracy to possess the drug for the purpose of sale or delivery. The charges say that on five separate occasions, Arnold obtained Suboxone, a Schedule II controlled substance, in part with benefits from TennCare, for the illegal purpose of selling or delivering to another person for financial gain. Suboxone is used to treat heroin and opiate addiction because it gives the same effect without the addictive qualities.
“Those who use TennCare to buy and sell prescription drugs ought to be getting the message that we aggressively pursuing TennCare fraud and making arrests statewide,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “We have many more cases of this across the state and local officers and providers are working with us to catch and end the occurrence of this crime.”
District Attorney General Barry P. Staubus will prosecute. TennCare fraud is a Class E felony, carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge, and sale and/or delivery of a Schedule III controlled substance is a Class D felony, punishable by two to four years in prison per charge.
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 1,900 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."