|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
CONTACT: LOLA POTTER
NASHVILLE, TN – Two mid-state residents are charged in separate cases with TennCare fraud, both involving prescription drugs.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrests of Leslie Larome Howard, 22, of Franklin and 54-year old Debra D. Cothran, of Clarksville. The arrests were assisted by the Williamson, Stewart and Montgomery Counties Sheriff’s Offices.
Leslie Larome Howard was indicted on two counts of TennCare fraud, with charges saying he twice presented fraudulent prescriptions for the painkiller Hydrocodone and used TennCare benefits to pay for the fraudulent prescriptions.
Debra D. Cothran is indicted on one count of TennCare fraud for using TennCare benefits to obtain Hydrocodone, while apparently intending to sell a portion of the prescription.
“Prescription drug fraud is a problem almost everywhere in the nation, but in Tennessee we do not allow it to be subsidized by TennCare and tax dollars,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “We have received excellent assistance on these cases from local law enforcement officers, as they share our mission to stop this type of criminal activity 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 Kim Helper will prosecute the Williamson County case and District Attorney General John W. Carney will prosecute the Montgomery County 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, over 1,600 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."