FENTRESS CO. WOMAN FACES OVER 80 COUNTS OF FRAUD INVOLVING TENNCARE BENEFITS AND PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
NASHVILLE, TN – A Fentress County woman is charged with 50 counts of fraudulently obtaining TennCare medical benefits, prescription drug fraud and obtaining services by fraud.
The Office of Inspector General today announced the arrest, made in Overton County. Governor Phil Bredesen created the OIG, one of the first units of its kind in the nation, in 2004. Since it became operational in February of 2005, 313 people have been charged with TennCare fraud. The OIG is an agency separate from the TennCare bureau.
Rebecca J. Amonett, 41, of Pall Mall, faces 50 counts of fraudulently obtaining TennCare medical assistance, 35 counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and 1 count of obtaining services by fraud, deception coercion or false pretense to avoid payment of prescriptions. The drugs involved are Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication that is considered habit-forming; Avinza, an extended-release form of the painkiller morphine; Soma, a muscle relaxant usually used to treat injuries and other painful muscular conditions; and, Cyclobenzaprine, another muscle relaxant mainly used to treat pain, tenderness, and limited motion.
Investigators say that Amonett filled over 30 prescriptions for the medications in just over a year at a local pharmacy in Livingston, using TennCare to pay for the drugs. But the provider on record for the prescriptions says she’s never been his patient, and reports he did not write the prescriptions.
“We relied heavily on local officers to find the suspect in this case – sheriff’s officers in Pickett and Fentress County – who went out of their way to find the suspect,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “The war against TennCare fraud can only be won with local officers, providers and prosecutors working with us, and we’ve been able to count on them immeasurably.”
If convicted Amonett could face up to two years on each count of TennCare fraud, up to four years on each count of the obtaining a controlled substance and up to six years for the theft of services.
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.tncarefraud.tennessee.gov and follow the prompts that read “Report Fraud Now.”