Former Social Security Administrative Law Judge Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Role in $550 Million Social Security Fraud Scheme

Friday, August 25, 2017

A former social security administrative law judge (ALJ) was sentenced today to four years in prison for his role in a scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $550 million in federal disability payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA) for thousands of claimants.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration-Office of Inspector General’s (SSA-OIG) Philadelphia Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Amy S. Hess of the FBI’s Louisville Field Division, Special Agent in Charge Tracey D. Montaño of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Nashville Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG) Atlanta Regional Office made the announcement.

David Black Daugherty, 81, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves of the Eastern District of Kentucky, who also ordered Daugherty to pay restitution of over $93 million to the SSA and HHS. Daugherty pleaded guilty in May 2017 to two counts of receiving illegal gratuities.

According to admissions made as part of his guilty plea, beginning in 2004, Daugherty, as an ALJ assigned to the SSA’s Huntington, W. Va., hearing office, sought out pending disability cases in which Kentucky attorney Eric Christopher Conn represented claimants and reassigned those cases to himself. Daugherty then contacted Conn and identified the cases he intended to decide the following month and further solicited Conn to provide medical documentation supporting either physical or mental disability determinations. Without exception, Daugherty awarded disability benefits to individuals represented by Conn – in some instances, without first holding a hearing. As a result of Daugherty’s awarding disability benefits to claimants represented by Conn, Conn paid Daugherty an average of approximately $8,000 per month in cash, until approximately April 2011. All told, Daugherty received more than $609,000 in cash from Conn for deciding approximately 3,149 cases.

As a result of the scheme, Conn, Daugherty, and their co-conspirators obligated the SSA to pay more than $550 million in lifetime benefits to claimants based upon cases Daugherty approved for which he received payment from Conn.

Daugherty was indicted last year, along with Conn and Alfred Bradley Adkins, a clinical psychologist. The defendants were charged with conspiracy, fraud, false statements, money laundering and other related offenses in connection with the scheme.

Conn pleaded guilty on March 24, to a two-count information charging him with theft of government money and paying illegal gratuities, and was sentenced in absentia on July 14 to 12 years in prison. Conn absconded from court ordered-electronic monitoring on June 2, and is considered a fugitive. He remains under indictment. On June 12, Adkins was convicted after a jury trial of one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud and one count of making false statements. Adkins is scheduled to be sentenced on September 22.

The SSA-OIG, FBI, IRS-CI and HHS-OIG investigated the case. Trial Attorney Dustin M. Davis of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Trial Attorney Elizabeth G. Wright of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section are prosecuting the case, with previous co-counsel including Assistant U.S. Attorney Trey Alford of the Western District of Missouri and Investigative Counsel Kristen M. Warden of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

Five Plea Agreements Lead to Repayment to TennCare

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Five people, including residents of Arkansas and Alabama, have been ordered to make restitution to TennCare after they were each charged separately with TennCare fraud.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the plea agreements, which include repayment of $147,000 to TennCare for healthcare insurance payments made on their behalf.

  • Keily Phillips, of Bridgeport, Alabama received four years’ probation in Marion County and was ordered to repay TennCare $48,340.80 and was ordered to repay the food stamp program a total of $12,015.00. She was arrested in October of 2014 and again in October 2015 stemming from charges she falsely reported her residency, family composition and marital income in order to render herself eligible for TennCare and the SNAP food stamp program. District Attorney General J. Michael Taylor prosecuted both cases.
  • Jann Cooke, of Jonesboro, Arkansas received 11 months 29 days supervised probation and is ordered to repay the state $19,952.37. She was also ordered to remain in supervision until the full amount is repaid. Cooke was charged in January of this year with claiming her family lived in Tennessee – when they actually resided in Arkansas – in order to receive TennCare benefits. At the time of arrest, Cooke was living in Gulf Breeze, Florida. With the assistance of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Cook was extradited back to Tennessee. District Attorney General Amy T. Weirich prosecuted this case.
  • In Marshall County, Patricia Lindsay of Chapel Hill received six years judicial diversion and was ordered to repay a total of $37,070.96. She was charged in May of this year with failing to disclose her income to the state in order to illegally obtain TennCare benefits. District Attorney General Robert Carter prosecuted this case.
  • Carla A. Gonzalez of Clarksville received two years judicial diversion and was ordered to repay the state a total of $12,273.00. She was charged in October of 2016 with obtaining TennCare healthcare insurance by claiming a minor child as a dependent; otherwise, she would not have been eligible for TennCare. District Attorney General John W. Carney prosecuted this case.
  • Tasha Isaac of Chattanooga received six years state probation and is ordered to repay the state $18,000. She was charged in July of last year with not fully reporting her income to the state in order to obtain TennCare benefits. The judge also ordered supervised state probation until restitution is paid in full, a special condition. District Attorney General Neal Pinkston prosecuted this case.

The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to more than $3 million being repaid to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of more than $163.6 million for TennCare, according to latest figures. To date, 2,889 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 visit the website and follow the prompts that read “Report TennCare Fraud.”

Putnam Co. Woman Charged with TennCare Drug Fraud

Friday, July 14, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A middle Tennessee woman is charged with TennCare fraud involving the sale of prescription drugs which were obtained through TennCare benefits.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrest of Kimberly Ann Smith, 31, of Cookeville, after a joint investigation with the Baxter Police Department.

Smith is charged with TennCare fraud for allegedly obtaining a prescription for the painkiller Oxycodone during a clinical visit paid for by TennCare, and later selling a portion of the drugs.

“We are working with municipal and county police officers across the state, as they often discover a connection to TennCare during local drug investigations,” Inspector General Manny Tyndall said.  “Local police are clearly committed to eliminating prescription drug abuse, and we’re doing our part to stop abusers who are supporting this lifestyle with TennCare.”

District Attorney General Bryant C. Dunaway is prosecuting. TennCare fraud is now a Class D felony punishable by up to four years in prison per charge.

The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to more than $3 million being repaid to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of more than $163.6 million for TennCare, according to latest figures. To date, 2,871 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 visit the website and follow the prompts that read “Report TennCare Fraud.”