|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2009
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER615.532.8560 (OFFICE)615.202.0701 (CELL)
HAMBLEN COUNTY COUPLE CHARGED WITH TENNCARE DRUG FRAUD
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Two Hamblen County residents are charged in connection with attempting to fill a doctor’s prescription which had been altered.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of Tonya Brotherton, 29, and her husband, Richard Brotherton, 28, both of Morristown. The couple’s arrest was assisted by the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Office.
The two are each charged with one count of fraudulently obtaining TennCare benefits. According to the indictment, Tonya Brotherton allegedly used TennCare to pay for a doctor’s office visit where she obtained a prescription for the strong painkiller Lortab. She and her husband Richard are accused of altering the prescription to include another strong painkiller -Roxicodone.
"This is one of the crimes we see more than others – people altering a legitimate prescription, usually involving pain medication,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “Fortunately, the state’s pharmacists have a watchful eye for this crime, and they can quickly identify an unusual prescription.”
Illegally obtaining TennCare medical benefits is a class E felony that carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison. District Attorney General C. Berkeley Bell will prosecute the cases.
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 1,000 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."