September 30, 2005                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton


      Helena, Mont., September 30, 2005 - Montana State Auditor John Morrison announced today that Dillon resident Melanie Sigman recently pled guilty in Beaverhead County District Court to one count of theft by insurance fraud and one count of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs. Both counts are felonies. Sigman entered the pleas pursuant to the terms of a plea agreement she reached with the state. In pleading guilty to the two counts, Sigman admitted she fraudulently obtained more than 80 prescriptions from dozens of doctors for the painkiller Oxycontin and then filed insurance claims for payment. She also admitted that she provided some of the pills to a boyfriend. The case was investigated and prosecuted by Montana State Auditor John Morrison's office. The Beaverhead County Sheriff's office also assisted the Auditor's office in conducting the investigation.
      "I commend all of the enforcement agencies involved in this case for their work to apprehend this suspect and break up a destructive insurance fraud scheme," said Morrison. "Protecting consumers and ridding the state of this type of costly, illegal activity will continue to be a top priority at the State Auditor's Office."
      After accepting her guilty pleas, District Court Judge Loren Tucker deferred sentencing Sigman for a period of five years on each count, with each period of deferment to run consecutively. This means Sigman will remain under state supervision for ten years. Judge Tucker ordered Sigman's attorney and the state's attorney to submit to the court the amount of restitution she will be required to repay as a part of her plea agreement.
      Sigman was previously sentenced by the state of South Dakota to a two-year sentence for fraudulently obtaining Oxycontin. In that case, Sigman obtained the drug, which is available only with a valid prescription, after charges had been filed against her in the Montana case.
      "Our vigorous investigation and prosecution efforts should serve as notice to others who would attempt to engage in this type of insurance scam," said Morrison.
      Since many important cases start with anonymous tips from the public, Morrison encourages Montana residents who are concerned about insurance cheating and who may have information about insurance fraud to contact the Investigations Division of the Montana State Auditor's Office at 1-800-332-6148.