|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2011
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – A Hancock County Grand Jury has charged two people with TennCare fraud related to selling prescription drugs paid for by TennCare, the state’s public healthcare insurance program.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrests of Aaron S. Trent, 31, and Patricia Hamby, 28, both of Sneedville. The arrests are the result of a joint effort with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office.
Both Trent and Hamby are accused of fraudulently obtaining TennCare medical assistance benefits to which they were not entitled. They each received prescriptions for Buprenorphine, which is used to treat addiction to injected drugs like Morphine and Heroin, and available primarily in institutional settings. TennCare paid for the prescriptions, while the two planned to sell a portion of the drugs. Trent was charged with two counts of TennCare fraud, while Hamby was charged with three counts of TennCare fraud.
“This kind of drug should be used only in a healthcare setting, and like any narcotic, can be highly dangerous when sold illegally to others,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “Every drug fraud arrest adds up to fewer people getting these drugs illegally in our communities.”
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge. District Attorney General C. Berkeley Bell is prosecuting.
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."