Five more sentenced in insurance fraud case

By The Associated Press

BRANDON — Five women have been sentenced from three to eight years in prison for helping bilk the state out of more than $500,000 in a health care fraud scheme.

The Clarion-Ledger reports (http://bit.ly/nu3gMS) the women were sentenced Tuesday in Rankin County Circuit Court by Judge John Emfinger.

So far, 11 people have pleaded guilty and been sentenced.

The remaining three are set for trial in November, said Special Assistant Attorney General Larry Baker. They are Crystal Barnes, 36, Sonya Mitchell, 35, and Zaveon Cooper, 36, all of Jackson.

In the scheme, three Blue Cross/Blue Shield workers, who were charged in the case and later fired by the insurance company, recruited state or school employees to file fraudulent claims. The state employees would then kick back a portion of the money to the insurance workers. Blue Cross/Blue Shield administers the state health plan and the company replaced the money stolen in the scheme.

Those sentenced Tuesday were:

— Shantwana Johnson, 36, of Jackson, who earlier this month pleaded guilty to conspiracy, insurance fraud, mail fraud and false representation, was sentenced to serve eight years in prison and pay restitution with co-defendants of the money received.

— Tambrella Johnson, 25, of Jackson, pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy, insurance fraud, mail fraud and false representation because of her admission and was sentenced to five years in prison and restitution.

— Fonda Church, 46, of Jackson, was sentenced to eight years in prison and restitution. She pleaded guilty to two counts each of conspiracy, insurance fraud and false representation.

— Kathy Carter, 40, of Jackson, pleaded guilty to two counts each of conspiracy, insurance fraud, mail fraud and false representations. Emfinger gave Carter three years to serve and suspended sentences on the other counts.

— Contessa Davis, 37, of Jackson, pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy, insurance fraud, mail fraud and false representation and was given a five-year sentence and restitution.