Aug. 21, 2006                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton

AUDITOR MORRISON ANNOUNCES SENTENCING OF ILLEGAL DRUG SEEKER


      Dillon Insurance Fraud Case Results In Felony Convictions
      
      Montana State Auditor John Morrison announced today that Dillon resident Melanie Sigman was sentenced in District Court last week following her earlier guilty pleas to one count of felony insurance fraud/theft and one count of felony criminal distribution of dangerous drugs. 
      "This type of crime involves both drug abuse and insurance fraud,” said Morrison. “Drug seekers hurt themselves and others affected by their substance abuse, but they also drive up insurance rates for everyone."
      District Judge Loren Tucker sentenced Sigman to a five-year deferred sentence on each count, with each sentence to run consecutive to the other.  This means Sigman will be under direct supervision by the Montana State Department of Corrections for a total of ten years.  Sigman was also ordered to repay $12,727.90 in restitution to Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance Company of Montana for fraudulent prescription drug claims she submitted to the insurance company.
      The State Auditor’s Office filed criminal charges against Sigman through the Beaverhead County Attorney’s Office after conducting an investigation into the matter.  State Auditor investigators initiated the investigation after receiving a suspected fraud referral from Blue Cross Blue Shield.  State Auditor investigators were aided in their investigation by the Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Department. 
      During the course of the investigation, the investigators determined Sigman was “doctor shopping”, or going to numerous doctors to receive multiple prescriptions, to receive the highly addictive drug Oxycontin.  In doing so, Sigman submitted numerous claims to Blue Cross Blue Shield for payment of the fraudulent prescriptions.
      "This conviction is the result of the hard work of many state and local law enforcement officials over a period of more than a year," noted Morrison. "I commend all of the enforcement agencies involved in this case for their work to break up this insurance fraud scheme and bring the offender to justice.”
      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.