Sarasota doctor convicted of taking kickbacks from drug firm

Steven Chun
Steven Chun(Pinellas County Sheriff's Office)
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 6:23 PM EDT
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TAMPA, Fla. (WWSB) - A Sarasota doctor has been found guilty of receiving kickbacks from a drug company for prescribing its brand of fentanyl.

A federal jury in Tampa on Tuesday convicted Dr. Steven Chun, 59, of Sarasota and drug salesman Daniel Tondre, 52, or Tampa, of conspiring to pay and receive kickbacks and bribes, in the form of speaker fees, in return for prescribing the fentanyl spray Subsys.

They were convicted on five separate counts of paying and receiving kickbacks on specific dates. Tondre was also convicted of two counts of identification fraud in connection with the sham speaker events.

Each faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in federal prison on the conspiracy count, and up to 10 years in prison for each substantive kickback violation. the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Tondre also faces up to 5 years’ imprisonment on each identification fraud count. Prosecutors are also seeking to force the pair to forfeit the proceeds of the kickbacks.

A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to court documents, Chun operated a pain management medical practice in Sarasota where he prescribed a large volume of Subsys, an expensive form of liquid fentanyl designed to be applied under the tongue, allowing it to rapidly enter the bloodstream. Tondre was employed as a sales representative by Insys Therapeutics, Inc., the company that made Subsys.

Insys and Tondre held bogus speaker events, and paid Chun $2,400 to $3,000 per event in return for writing more and higher dosages of Subsys prescriptions.

The sham speaker programs were often only attended by Chun’s family and friends. Insys also bribed Chun by hiring his then-girlfriend to work as an Insys liaison.

Prosecutors say Chun was paid more than $278,000 over a period of less than three years. Tondre earned more than $737,000 in in salary and sales commissions over a period of two and half years. Medicare Part D paid more than $4.5 million for Subsys prescriptions written by Chun.

Insys and its executives were convicted for their roles earlier in Massachusetts.

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