Former Indiana doctor sentenced to probation in ‘pill mill’ case

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A former Indiana doctor accused of operating a "pill mill" has been sentenced to more than 10 years of probation but no time behind bars under a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Tristan Stonger, 70, appeared Thursday in Miami County Circuit Court, where Judge Tim Spahr accepted Stonger's guilty plea to five charges including issuing an invalid prescription and insurance fraud, the Kokomo Tribune reported. In exchange, 50 other charges are dropped.

The plea agreement also prevents Stonger from ever practicing medicine again or prescribing drugs.

Stonger apologized, saying he's "very remorseful."

Investigators say Stonger saw as many as 100 patients in a single day and traded pain pills for work on his farm. The charges followed a three-year investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency, which spent months investigating his Pain Management Centers of Indiana office in Peru.

He also operated Bloomington and Indianapolis offices.

At least two patients told investigators they were employed by Stronger at his farm near Bunker Hill, where they worked on his vehicles or fed animals in exchange for pills.

On one occasion, one of the workers reported he was baling hay when Stonger said "I'll bet you a bottle of hydro that you can't get that bale up there." The worker told investigators he then loaded the hay and Stonger gave him a bottle of the prescription opiate painkiller hydrocodone that he had at his house.

Another worker said Stonger wrote him a prescription while he was at the farm even though Stonger knew he was addicted to pills.

Agents identified two patients who died from overdoses after Stonger refilled their prescriptions, the newspaper reported.

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