Three people — including one from Obion County — have been arrested and charged with TennCare fraud after a round-up that netted 37 people arrested on indictments for drug charges in Dyer County.
The indictments came after a 10-month undercover operation that focused primarily on the selling of illegal prescription drugs, led by Dyersburg police.
The Tennessee Office of Inspector General assisted local police, charging four of the suspects with TennCare fraud, among a total of 57 who were indicted. Most of them face drug charges and the majority involved selling prescription medications, according to a news release.
The three arrested for TennCare fraud include:
• Jay Lee Burton, 54, of Dyersburg, charged with TennCare fraud and selling hydrocodone, a Schedule III controlled substance. He was accused of using TennCare to obtain the painkiller, later selling a portion to an undercover agent.
• Charles D. Gray, 51, of Bogota, charged with TennCare fraud and selling Baclofen, a muscle relaxer. He was accused of using TennCare to obtain the drugs, later selling a portion to an undercover agent.
• Cynthia Joan Hale, 55, of Hornbeak, charged with TennCare fraud and two counts of selling the painkiller morphine, a Schedule II controlled substance. She was accused of using TennCare to obtain morphine and twice selling a portion to an undercover agent.
TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison. District Attorney General Phillip Bivens is prosecuting the case in Dyer County.
“Local police, healthcare providers and others have joined with us in targeting prescription drug abuse in Tennessee,” state Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “We are aggressively pursuing individuals who are misusing TennCare in order to access controlled substances, most of which they intend to resell on the street.
“The Dyersburg Police Department, led by Chief Art Heun, has been a great partner in our fight against TennCare drug fraud.”
The Office of Inspector General (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 1,700 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 by logging onto www.tn.gov/tnoig and following the prompts that read “Report TennCare Fraud.”
Published in The Messenger 10.19.12