|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2010
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – A Monroe County woman is accused of using the TennCare benefits of another member of her family in order to obtain an addictive painkiller.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with assistance from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, today announced the arrest of 54-year old Mary M. Shaffer, of Greenback. Shaffer is charged with thirteen counts of TennCare fraud, fourteen counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and identity theft. The charges stem from allegations she presented forged prescriptions in the name of a family member for Hydrocodone, which was paid for by TennCare.
“These types of medications are valuable for pain management for individuals who need them – but overuse and abuse of painkillers can lead to serious problems,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “When we intervene in these types of cases, we’re not only trying to get the attention of the accused, but are helping keep others from getting pulled into the cycle of addiction.”
District Attorney General Steven Bebb will prosecute the case. TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years per charge in prison, obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and the identity theft charge are Class D felonies, carrying a sentence of up 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 $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 1,240 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."