Lawrence County Woman Charged with TennCare Drug Fraud

Thursday, April 14, 2011 | 01:29 pm

NASHVILLE – A Lawrence County woman is charged with TennCare fraud for selling prescription drugs paid for through TennCare, the state’s public healthcare insurance program.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of Michelle L. Bonds, 33, of Lawrenceburg, after a joint investigation with the Lawrenceburg Police Department.

Bonds has been charged with two counts of TennCare fraud and one count of sale of a schedule III controlled substance.  She’s accused of filling a prescription for the painkiller Lortab, which was paid for by TennCare, then selling a portion of the pills on two separate occasions.

“We are working with municipal and county police officers across the state, as they work to get these drugs off the street, and we work with them to end the abuse of TennCare for illegal drug trafficking,” Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. “We’re all working together on eliminating prescription drug abuse, and we’re doing our part to stop abusers who are supporting this lifestyle with TennCare.”

TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison per charge, and sale of a Schedule III controlled substance is a Class D felony, punishable by two to four years in prison. District Attorney General Mike Bottoms is prosecuting.

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 1,400 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."