Central Indiana pain doctor accused of trading sex for pills faces multiple felony counts
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FOX59 was the first to report on allegations against Dr. Tristan Stonger. Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said Tuesday that Stonger faces two counts of distribution of hydrocodone, one count of distribution of morphine, two counts of distribution of amphetamines and one count of distribution of a legend drug. All are felonies.
"These were distributed to a patient without any legitimate medical purpose and were done so while engaging in a sexual relationship with that patient," Curry said.
"These charges relate to one specific patient," Curry said. "And otherwise there are matters of ongoing investigation not only in Marion County but other counties as well."
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Curry added that the arrest came after an investigation involving multiple agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Indiana Attorney General's Office.
Curry encouraged anyone with knowledge of similar situations to contact the DEA at (317) 226-7977 or online at DEA.gov. That information can be reported anonymously.
"The message I'd like to say today is clear," said Greg Westfall of the Drug Enforcement Administration. "If you're addicted to drugs, help us reduce demand and seek help."
Westfall said drug addiction continues to be a scourge in Indiana communities, leading to crime and overdoses. Attorney General Greg Zoeller said addiction leaves patients vulnerable to engage in behavior they many not normally engage in.
"I think that what this case really exemplifies is the fact that the problems associated with prescription drugs can often lead people to become very vulnerable and too often, they become victims themselves," Zoeller said.
Zoeller said his office has focused on shutting down "pill mills" that overprescribe medication to patients. Zoeller said there was a particular problem with businesses that overprescribed medicine under a "cash-for-pills" arrangement.
"It's not so much treating a pain, but an addiction pain. So when you see people turn to heroin, it's not because they're seeking to get high. A lot of time they're seeking to avoid the pain of withdrawal," Zoeller said.
According to court documents, Stonger started treating a patient in 2013 and developed a sexual relationship with her in 2014. The patient said she complied with his sexual demands because she worried Stonger would stop writing her prescriptions if she didn't.
In March, the woman visited Stonger and recorded the encounter. Minutes after the appointment began, the doctor can allegedly be heard asking her to perform a sex act. At the end of the visit, Stonger wrote three prescriptions for her, court documents said.
A review of the Indiana prescription drug monitoring database INSPECT shows the female patient has filled 13 prescriptions in 2016 for Adderall, Lyrica, Oxycodone and acetaminophen. Stonger wrote all of the prescriptions, according to court records.
In February, a former employee filed a complaint that raised concerns about Stonger and sexual activities with patients. During an interview with federal investigators, the employee said Stonger had "special patients" who received more prescriptions than others and had longer appointments. Stonger also asked employees to knock before entering the exam room when he saw those patients, the employee said.
The DEA raided Stonger's offices in Indianapolis, Peru and Bloomington in unrelated cases. Sources said Stonger was being investigated for overprescribing that led to the deaths of several patients. The case is still pending.
The Attorney General's Office has filed an emergency motion to suspend Stonger's license. The medical licensing board will hear that motion at its meeting on April 14.