Chattanooga man sentenced in $1.4 million mail fraud

Chattanooga man sentenced in $1.4 million mail fraud

May 23rd, 2018 by Staff Report in Breaking News

A Chattanooga man on Wednesday was sentenced to federal prison and ordered to repay almost $1.4 million he and a partner stole by fraud from a Johnson City, Tennessee, medical center.

Charles Turner, 43, of Chattanooga, will serve six months in federal prison and six months' home detention on his conviction for mail fraud, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

His partner, Donald Kevin Collins, of Elizabethton, Tennessee, was sentenced to 51 months in prison and three years' probation. He also was ordered to pay almost $1.4 million in restitution.

The release said Collins, the materials manager for Mountain Empire Surgery Center [MESC], conspired with Turner to submit false invoices for purchases from a shell company called Turner Distributors, LLC. When the surgery center received legitimate medical supplies from another vendor, Collins falsified invoices and packing slips to saying they came from Turner Distributors. The faked papers were turn in to accounts payable personnel at the center.

Between July 2009 and March 2016, the surgery center mailed checks to Turner Distributors that Charles Turner turned into cash and split with Collins, according to the release. All told, the two obtained 180 checks totaling $1,381,552, the release states.

Turner pleaded guilty in October to one count of a 16-count indictment for conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Collins pleaded guilty in January to one count of conspiracy and 15 counts of mail fraud, according to the release.

U.S. District Judge J. Ronnie Greer also sentenced Turner to three years' probation and 15o hours of community service.

The FBI and the TBI's Medicaid fraud control unit participated in the investigation, the release states.