LARGO — Deputies arrested a man they say posed as a doctor before robbing a jewelry store Wednesday afternoon, then crashing a stolen getaway car into a tree.
About 11:45 a.m., Michael Basilotto, 43 of Northport went to the International Diamond Center, 3696 Ulmerton Road, to look at jewelry, deputies said.
He had made an appointment and was wearing medical scrubs, they said.
After examining some diamond rings, deputies said, Basilotto asked to examine the clarity in the sunlight.
An employee, identified as Timothy Hulfish, 57 of St. Petersburg, agreed. One by one, Basilotto tried on three rings on his fingers.
Then, deputies said, Basilotto punched the employee in the shoulder and ran away.
Hulfish tackled him in the parking lot, deputies said, and managed to get at least partway into Basilotto's car.
Basilotto started driving away. He didn't get far.
Deputies say Basilotto crashed into a palm tree in front of the nearby Executive Inn, 3580 Ulmerton Road. The car he was driving, a Cadillac, turned out to have been stolen from Sarasota County, deputies said.
Hulfish sustained minor injuries as a result of the crash, officials said. He was treated at St. Anthony's Hospital.
Deputies returned the rings, worth about $277,000, to the store.
Basilotto was arrested on several charges, including strong armed robbery, two counts of grand theft, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and resisting a merchant.
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