FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jackson, MS-The next to last of 14 defendants has been sentenced for her role in a $500,000 insurance fraud scheme involving the State and School Employees Health Insurance Plan, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.
Tiana Whitsett, age 35, of Jackson, formerly employed at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi, was sentenced by Judge John Emfinger today in Rankin County Circuit Court after having pleaded guilty to the following: Five counts of Conspiracy; Five counts of Insurance Fraud; Five counts of Mail Fraud; and Five counts of Making False Representations to Defraud the Government.
The Judge sentenced Whitsett to serve 15 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections; ordered her to pay restitution to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi in the amount of $127,137.10 to be paid jointly with her co-defendants; ordered her to reimburse the State of Mississippi?s General Fund in the amount of $2,945.00 for the cost of the investigation; ordered her to pay $500 to the Mississippi Crime Victim?s Compensation Fund and court costs in the amount of $3,315.00. Upon her release from prison, Whitsett will also serve five years of supervised probation.
To date, all of the 14 defendants have pleaded guilty in the scheme. Sentencing is still pending for Sonya Mitchell, age 35 of Jackson, a former employee of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi. Her sentencing date is set for May 21, 2012 @ 9 AM. She will remain in the Rankin County Jail until that date.
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi, which administers the State and School Employees Health Insurance Plan, had three employees who processed claims of up to $44,000 to at least 10 state employees for reimbursement for medical procedures that never occurred. These state employees cashed the checks and kicked back some of the money to the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi employees and one third party. The total stolen from the State and School Employees Health Insurance Plan is over $500,000, but Blue Cross has reimbursed the loss.
The scheme unraveled when a participant returned her check to Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi, which then turned it over to authorities. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi has cooperated with the Attorney General’s investigation and made a prompt and full refund to the State.
The cases were prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Larry Baker of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division.