Doctor facing felony charges for trading pills for sex with patient

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An Indiana doctor has been charged, accused of trading pills for sex with at least one patient, according to court documents uncovered by I-Team 8.

Dr. Tristan Stonger, a board certified physician with practices in Peru, Indianapolis and Bloomington, was arrested Monday and is facing several felony charges.

Stonger faces six felony charges:

  • dealing in a narcotic drug (level two felony)
  • dealing in a schedule II controlled substance (level six felony)
  • dispensing a legend drug illegally (level six felony)
  • dealing in a narcotic drug (level two felony)
  • dealing in a narcotic drug (level five felony)
  • dealing in a schedule II controlled substance (level six felony)

Stonger also faces a misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled substance for medication that was found on him at the time of his arrest.

The Indiana Attorney General’s office has also sought a 90-day suspension of Stonger’s medical license.

Dr. Tristan Stonger (Provided Photo/Tristan Stonger's website)
Dr. Tristan Stonger (Provided Photo/Tristan Stonger’s website)

According to the petition filed by the Attorney General’s office, Stonger developed a sexual relationship with at least one patient. The probable cause affidavit indicates that over the course of a year and a half, Stonger wrote 46 controlled substance prescriptions for that patient.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said that Stonger distributed hydrocodone, morphine and amphetamine to patient with no medical purpose. It’s believed that he had a sexual relationship with that patient.

Curry said it’s “particularly disturbing” that a medical professional would aid in a cycle of addiction.

COURT APPEARANCE

Stonger made his first court appearance on Tuesday. When asked by 24-Hour News 8 if he had anything to say about the allegations, he said, “No, ma’am.” Dr. Stonger is being held on seven charges, six of which are felonies. Authorities say they all stem from one patient, being identified only as Patient 1.

The documents claim that Patient 1 began seeing Stonger about three years ago. She would allegedly meet him at his home in Bloomington as well as his various offices to have sex in exchange for prescriptions for pain medication.

“These were distributed to a patient without any legitimate medical purpose and were done so while engaging in a sexual relationship with that patient,” said Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry.

The woman allegedly told investigators that she repeatedly asked for an MRI, but Dr. Stonger did not listen to her medical needs and instead increased her controlled substance prescriptions.

The documents also claim that a former employee said Stonger had “special patients” who could be seen without an appointment and did not have to wait. The employee alleged that the appointments would happen behind a locked door for an extended period of time.

Patient No. 1 recorded on her cell phone a sexual interaction that happened just two weeks ago, according to the probable cause affidavit. The woman then received three prescriptions after the appointment and was not billed. The document also states that after the DEA contact him, he asked the woman to lie, stating: “If you don’t lie to them, I’ll lose everything. I will lose my license because of this. You’re my patient. I’m your doctor. They will take my license away from me because of this.”

Gregory DeBorde has been a patient of Stonger for about six years. He says the allegations don’t line up with what he knows of Stonger. “He does not over medicate. He goes by the book and he treats first of all by standard ways.”

DeBorde calls the allegations ridiculous and says Stonger prefers looking for solutions to pain instead of prescribing medication.

“[He’s a] professional doctor. He’s not some moron who would ruin his career over this. I know he wouldn’t. I just know by his character,” he said.

When we asked Curry if more allegations and charges could come, he said it’s an ongoing investigation in all counties.

Records indicate that “on or about May 2013, [Stonger] began treating Patient 1. Sometime in late 2014, [Stoner] pursued a sexual relationship with Patient 1. Patient 1 has stated that she complied with [Stonger’s] requests because she felt obligated in order to receive prescriptions from [him]. [Stonger’s] requests for sexual contact with Patient 1 have continued to the present time,” according to documents filed with the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency.

Dr. Tristan Stronger (Provided Photo/IMPD)
Dr. Tristan Stonger (Provided Photo/IMPD)

The petition also alleges that on or about March 28, 2016, that same patient went to the medical office of Stonger for the purposes of getting controlled substances. Patient 1 made an audio recording of her time in the office, the records state.

“Within moments of walking into the exam room with Patient 1, (Stonger) makes sexual advances towards her and ultimately has her perform a sex act on him in the office. At the termination of the appointment, (Stonger) provides Patient 1 with three prescriptions for controlled substances.”

Among the drugs she obtained were: Lyrica, Oxycodone and Adderall.

The Indiana Attorney General’s petition also alleges that a former office staffer of Dr. Stonger raised concerns that Stonger was “engaging in inappropriate sexual activities in the office and failing to appropriately care for his patients.”

This employee later told investigators that she had concerns that Stonger had “special patients” with whom he would spend an unusual amount of time in an exam room. That employee further stated that Stonger would lock the door when he was with these special female patients and instruct staff not to knock on the door if it is locked. She reported that it “seemed to her that these patients received more narcotic medications than other patients,” the records state.

The petition goes on to state that on April 11, 2016 Stonger was charged with six felonies based on dealing or dispensing controlled substances specifically related to what he provided Patient 1 in February and March of 2016.

Stonger faces felony charges for trading pills for sex, Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced during a Tuesday press conference.

“The charges demonstrate the vulnerability of a patient who may be addicted, I am making that assumption,” Zoeller said.

I-Team 8 reached Stonger’s wife by phone.

“I am shocked by these allegations that were posed to him,” Belinda Stonger told I-Team 8’s Bennett Haeberle. “I was totally unaware of them.”

Belinda Stonger told I-Team 8 that the DEA raided her husband’s offices in Peru, Bloomington and Indianapolis in late February on accusations of over-prescribing medication. She denies wrongdoing by her husband in that instance.

“They tried to say it wasn’t medically necessary,” she told I-Team 8. “His practice was not a pill mill. It was interventional.”

Locations raided include:

  • 8101 South Zikes Road, Bloomington (Stonger’s additional residence)
  • 8851 Southpointe Drive, Indianapolis
  • 2920 McIntyre Drive, Bloomington
  • 8272 Strawtown Pike, Bunker Hill (Stonger’s main residence)
  • 82 East 3rd Street, Peru
  • 1 South Broadway, Peru
  • 5 South Broadway, Peru

Belinda Stonger said she was made aware of the sexual allegations against her husband Monday, but didn’t want to comment further until she had a chance to speak with him directly.

Belinda Stonger did confirm, however, that her husband was in fact arrested Monday.

Stonger concluded by saying that she believes those making certain allegations have questionable credibility.

The DEA said the February raid on Dr. Stonger’s office is still ongoing.

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