Another guilty plea heard in TennCare fraud case for pills

Friday, April 27, 2007

Another Marshall County woman has pleaded guilty in connection with TennCare fraud charges announced last year by the state inspector general assigned to crack down on abuse of the public health insurance system.

Pamela Shantel Jett Roden, 23, of Cornersville, pleaded guilty of fraudulently obtaining benefits with forged prescriptions and then using her TennCare benefits to pay the pharmacy, according to an agreement announced in circuit court on Wednesday.

In conjunction with an agreement, Roden accepted a four-year sentence as sanctioned by Judge Robert Crigler who set June 20 as the date for a hearing when he will decide how that sentence should be served. Options include various degrees of probation, a split sentence and incarceration.

Roden is one of five women named by the inspector general as having done substantially the same thing. In late January, Christy Prier, 33, of Ardmore, and Pamela Wells, 34, of Lewisburg were sentenced to eight years of probation after they pleaded guilty of TennCare fraud.

Roden is related to Jennifer Stinnett of Lewisburg, another defendant. Stinnett was working for a dentist and pleaded guilty on Jan. 24. The fifth defendant is Anna Marie Jett, 33, also of Lewisburg.

Stinnett made calls to the Wal-Mart Pharmacy that filled prescription requests for pain pills, Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard said. Roden went to get the pills and used her TennCare card to pay for the controlled substances.

Wal-Mart's pharmacy wasn't the only drug store in Lewisburg that sold prescriptions to defendants in these five cases, but Roden pleaded guilty to her role in dealing with that pharmacy.

"In all cases, the evidence shows that the doctor didn't issue a prescription," Barnard said.

The state wants restitution which Barnard said is nominal, but it reflects the facts of the charge that public health insurance benefits were obtained through fraud.

Dozens of charges were contained in sealed indictments issued by the Marshall County Grand Jury last year when the fraud charges led to the arrests of the five women.

Because of multiple charges and the plea agreement, Judge Crigler arranged a series of the charges against Roden so that some might be served consecutively while others might be served concurrently. The combination results in an effective sentence of four years.

TennCare fraud is punishable with a jail term of up to six years, officials said.