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Pinellas doctor gets five years in prison for illegal drug script

TAMPA — A Pinellas County doctor who formerly urged the use of yoga, rather than medication, to control pain was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday for prescribing oxycodone to an undercover detective.

Dr. John Anthony Gianoli III, 51, who operated the Body of Dr. G Clinic in St. Petersburg, was found guilty in June of illegally prescribing the drug.

From September 2009 to July 2010, the detective visited the clinic 10 times, according to testimony at trial. On five of those occasions, Gianoli prescribed oxycodone even when the detective told the doctor he was diverting some or all of the pills to his girlfriend.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew also sentenced Gianoli to three years of probation upon his release from prison. The physician also must forfeit his medical license. Sentencing guidelines, which a judge is not required to follow, ranged from 78 to 97 months.

Gianoli's attorney argued in a sentencing memo that no evidence indicated that the doctor saw a large number of patients nor that he wrote a large number of prescriptions for opiates.

"When a patient (or undercover agent posing as a patient) presents to the physician armed with phony medical records and deceptive information regarding their medical history, diagnoses and treatment, this prosecution suggests a physician must be a detective, forensic document analyst and interrogator before he or she can exercise their clinical judgment," the memo said.

Prosecutors, however, said the detective can be clearly heard on an undercover audio recording saying that he was not taking the prescription and was giving it to his girlfriend in exchange for sex.

Gianoli, who was acquitted at trial of two additional charges of illegally prescribing the drug, testified he did not believe the medication was being given to a third person, nor did he receive extra compensation for the drugs.

Gianoli's attorney argued for a lesser sentence, noting the loss of Gianoli's medical license was severe enough.

"Dr. Gianoli will never treat patients or prescribe medication to anyone ever again, although he will continue to pay on his sizeable medical school loans for many years to come," the attorney said in the sentencing memo.

William R. Levesque can be reached at levesque@tampabay.com.

Pinellas doctor gets five years in prison for illegal drug script 09/05/12 [Last modified: Thursday, September 6, 2012 12:24pm]
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