|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – A Blount County woman has pleaded guilty to TennCare fraud for using the program to pay for fraudulent prescriptions.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) announced the conviction of Lori M. Ellison, 33, of Alcoa. She was accused of committing TennCare fraud by calling a Sevierville pharmacy, posing as a doctor’s office, and prescribing for herself several controlled substances. The prescriptions included Suboxone, which is used to treat morphine and heroin addiction, the anti-depressant Citalopram and Zolpidem, a sleep-inducing medication. She used TennCare, the state’s public healthcare insurance, to pay for the forged prescriptions.
Ellison waived indictment and pleaded guilty to TennCare fraud, a Class E Felony. She was sentenced to two years probation to run concurrent with an unrelated sentence, serving six months in a state penitentiary without early probation. She also has to pay fines and restitution totaling over $2,600.
“We continue to work closely with local law enforcement agencies across the state, such as the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “ We greatly appreciate the support and assistance we receive from local police.” Sevier County District Attorney James Dunn’s office prosecuted this case.
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, nearly 1,500 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."