|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 16, 2010
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE – Three people are charged with TennCare fraud by the Unicoi County Grand Jury, accusing them of selling prescription drugs paid for with TennCare health insurance benefits.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrests of Shannon M. Shelton, 35, of Flag Pond; David W. McKinney, 37, of Erwin; and, Michelle Lockner, 33, also from Erwin. The arrests are the result of a joint effort with the Unicoi County Sheriff’s Office.
Both McKinney and Lockner are accused of fraudulently obtaining Suboxone, a drug used to treat heroin addiction, using TennCare benefits to pay for the prescription. McKinney and Lockner have each been charged separately with one count of TennCare fraud and they’re named together in an indictment charging possession of a Schedule III drug with intent to deliver and conspiracy to sell a Schedule III controlled substance. The indictment maintains that Michelle Lockner arranged for a drug transaction to take place with David McKinney where he would sell drugs obtained by Lockner with TennCare benefits.
In a separate case, Shannon Shelton has been charged with two counts of TennCare fraud, with charges saying she obtained prescriptions for the painkiller Hydrocodone and Celexa, an anti-anxiety medication, using TennCare for payment while planning to unlawfully deliver both prescriptions to another individual.
"Part of our continuing mission is to help preserve the integrity of the TennCare prescription drug program," Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. "We will attempt to do so by vigorously prosecuting anyone who uses or attempts to use the program for illegitimate purposes."
Both TennCare fraud and Conspiracy to sell a Schedule III controlled substance are Class E felonies carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison. Possession of a Schedule III controlled substance with the intent to deliver is a Class E felony punishable by two to four years in prison. District Attorney General Anthony Clark is prosecuting.
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 1,300 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."