Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Overton County Woman Pleads To TennCare Fraud

An Overton County woman has pleaded guilty to TennCare fraud and theft of services. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced that 41-year-old Leslie A. Christensen of Livingston, pleaded guilty to five counts of felony TennCare fraud and one count of theft of services.  Christenson was sentenced to five years imprisonment, suspended to supervised judicial diversion probation if she repays TennCare $26,818.79 in restitution, in addition to a $5,000 fine plus court costs. She must also undergo an alcohol and drug assessment.   Christenson was one of 22 TennCare enrollees who were among 50 people arrested in October 2007 in an investigation of Clark's Pharmacy in Livingston. In that case, pharmacist Malcolm D. Clark was also charged in the investigation, and last year he pleaded guilty to charges including selling the painkiller Oxycodone within a drug-free school zone, TennCare fraud, theft of property over $10,000, and unlawfully dispensing the strong pain killer morphine. Clark was ordered to pay almost a quarter of a million dollars to the Overton County Sheriff's Department, over $97,000 in restitution to TennCare, and $39,000 to Overton County, and he was ordered to "retire" his Tennessee pharmacy license.

"We are continuing to work hard to place charges against anyone we find misusing the TennCare program," Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. "People should get the message that the OIG is going after TennCare fraud with a full court press."

District Attorney General Randy York prosecuted these cases. Overton County Detective Greg Etheredge, lead investigator, brought these cases to the OIG's attention. 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,