TAMPA — A Pinellas physician who urged the use of yoga to control pain has been indicted on federal charges of illegally prescribing the painkiller oxycodone, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Thursday.
Dr. John Anthony Gianoli III, 51, who practiced in St. Petersburg before moving his office to Largo earlier this year, is accused of writing illegal prescriptions five times in late 2009 and early 2010, court records show.
The indictment does not note the volume of oxycodone prescribed, nor the circumstances involved. A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Robert O'Neill declined to provide details.
Gianoli said in 2010 that he was an internal medicine and pain management specialist.
If convicted on the charges, he faces up to 20 years in prison. Court records do not reflect if Gianoli, who was indicted on Wednesday, has been released on bail. He did not return a message left at his office.
"Wow," said yoga instructor Val Spies, who helped Gianoli present a two-day workshop last year for people suffering back pain. "I was under the impression that he was trying to help people avoid using drugs. This is really disappointing."
In a 2010 St. Petersburg Times story, Gianoli said he became interested in yoga during high school in the mid-1970s to improve his performance in sports. Later, the doctor said, he used yoga to help his recovery from two car accidents.
Gianoli became a certified yoga instructor several years ago and said he spent 20 minutes to an hour daily stretching and meditating.
"Yoga stretches tendons, ligaments and muscles," Gianoli said in 2010. "It makes a larger space for the nerves in the back, the source of most lower back pain."
Gianoli often posts videos on YouTube, some about yoga or his travels.
In one April 2010 video, Gianoli comments about media gathered at a news conference involving former Gov. Charlie Crist near his St. Petersburg office.
"I'm not a political candidate, thank goodness," Gianoli said in the video. "I feel for people who have to have their lives under such scrutiny."
William R. Levesque can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3432.