Public health experts puzzled over arrest of prominent Sarasota oncologist

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Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 10:32 PM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A man known for saving the lives of those battling cancer found himself in handcuffs on Thursday and the arrest has some in the medical community wondering why.

Police said Dr. Michael Dattoli, head of the Dattoli Cancer Center on Fruitville Road in Sarasota, was arrested for allegedly using another doctor’s prescription pad to write prescriptions for valium. Dattoli allegedly claimed the prescriptions were for his wife.

But Dattoli’s wife told police those prescriptions were not hers. Public health experts said this is very bizarre for a doctor of his stature to possibly do something like this.

“It’s kind of a low-level kind of fraud and you would wonder why somebody would do this for three scripts. There’s no indication that he was taking these things and selling them,” said Dr. Jay Wolfson, professor of Public Health at USF.

Dattoli is facing charges of controlled substance fraud, insurance fraud, and criminal use of personal identification information. Many of those ABC7 talked with didn’t want to place judgment on Dattoli until more information comes out.

“The court, the law will judge, not me or anybody else,” said Marion Motley, a Sarasota resident.

Experts said even though Dattoli has an impressive and clean history, punishment for these charges can be harsh, from possible jail time to hefty criminal fines. Depending on what happens with the court case, that may determine if anything happens to his doctor’s license and his practice.

“If found guilty, several things are true within 30 days, either an agreement that he pleads out or if he’s found guilty,” said Wolfson. “He has to report this to the Board of Medicine and then he would be subject to discipline by the Board of Medicine, which could include anything from a letter of consult to revocation of his license.”

Dr. Michael Dattoli has been free on bond since Friday. His arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2022. We did reach out to his office, but they say they are not commenting on this. Dattoli is also an advertiser on ABC7.

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