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April 27, 2011

LITTLE ROCK - Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced today that Merrilee Tarpley, 41, of Malvern, pleaded guilty in Garland County Circuit Court to a felony charge of obtaining drugs by fraud.

McDaniel's office pursued charges against Tarpley after an investigation by the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Tarpley, a licensed practical nurse, admitted to an investigator that she had taken three hydrocodone tablets from her then-employer, Heritage of Hot Springs Health and Rehabilitation.

Tarpley was sentenced Tuesday to three years' probation and $995 in fines and court costs.

Tarpley's case has been referred to the Arkansas State Board of Nursing.

"We won't tolerate this or any other type of abuse in our state's nursing homes," McDaniel said. "It's my office's responsibility to investigate fraud and abuse of our Medicaid system, and we take that responsibility seriously. I would ask anyone who knows of any instances of Medicaid fraud, or abuse and neglect in our nursing homes, to call my office."

McDaniel's office was a special prosecutor in the case, assisted by Garland County Prosecutor Steve Oliver.

To report Medicaid fraud or abuse and neglect in nursing homes, call the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit's tip line, (866) 810-0016.