An Isle of Palms man now in prison in South Carolina for embezzling insurance premiums from a health care benefit program for church pastors is facing more insurance-fraud allegations in Tennessee.

William Madison Worthy, 50, who also previously lived in Spartanburg, was federally indicted in Nashville on June 26 for his alleged role in a national health-care scheme that defrauded more than 17,000 people out of more than $28 million in health benefit premiums, according to federal prosecutors.

“The magnitude of this fraud and the vast number of victims left in its wake is astounding,” said acting U.S. Attorney David Rivera in a statement.

Worthy and three others were the targets of the 57-count indictment. The others are Bart Sidney Posey, 46, and Angela Slavey Posey, 46, both of Springfield, Tenn., and Richard Hall Bachman, 65, of Austin, Tex.

The Poseys were the owners of Smart Data Solutions, a company operating in Springfield. Bachman was one of their business associates, according to authorities.

Prosecutors said Worthy was promoting his “shell” company, Beema/Serve America, as a foreign insurance company, an underwriter for policies sold to the public, but the company was not licensed to operate in any state, they said.

Between January 2008 and July 2010, the Poseys, Bachman and Worthy sold health care coverage through unlicensed insurance companies, authorities said. They collected more than $28 million in premiums for health care coverage, but denied legitimate claims submitted by their participants, according to prosecutors.

Worthy and the three co-defendants also embezzled money from the paid premiums that were supposed to be used to pay eligible health care claims, prosecutors said.

“Honest and law-abiding citizens are fed up with the likes of those who use deceit and fraud to line their pockets with other people’s money,” said Christopher A. Henry, the special agent in charge of the IRS criminal investigation division.

If convicted, Worthy and the other co-defendants face up to 35 years in prison.

Worthy is in prison for a similar scheme in South Carolina. He was sentenced to seven years and three months last March after pleading guilty to fraudulently selling an insurance plan, which was marketed to church pastors and their staffs.

Between 2004 and 2006, Worthy and another co-defendant falsely marketed their Church Plan as a fully-funded and insured health care plan, according to the indictment.

FBI agents and federal prosecutors learned that Worthy stole nearly $1 million out of $3.5 million taken in, officials said. Prosecutors said the plan failed and left more than 4,000 unpaid claims.

In January, a judge ordered $1,219,903 of restitution be paid by Worthy in that case. Worthy is serving his sentence at a federal correctional institution in Estill, about 96 miles west of Charleston.

Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or