TAMPA — Dr. David has gone back to jail, scowling in his hospital scrubs. The problem is his medical license. He doesn't have one.
A police captain stood before the cameras Monday and called Dr. David a predator, a confidence man, the object of scorn. He said the doctor, once merely a fraud, had now become a thief.
Money had been stolen, and with it a woman's heart.
"I'm very nervous," the woman said, surrounded by reporters in a office at police headquarters, speaking on condition of anonymity because she felt afraid and ashamed.
To understand this escapade, you have to go back about four years, a month before her wedding day, when she discovered her fiance had been cheating.
After that she was cautious, and she resisted at first when her friends suggested an online dating service. But when three of them got married to partners they'd found at Match.com, she put up her own picture.
The woman, 31, is an urban professional with a master's degree, an administrator at a public school in Tampa. She met her new man around January, about three months after he posted bail.
He was a big man with dark hair. He said he had played baseball and football for the University of Florida. When he told her his name was Anthony Davis, she Googled it just to be safe. Nothing suspicious came up.
He said he was an orthopedic physician's assistant, and there was no reason to believe otherwise. He came home with gauze and surgical scissors. He spoke into a voice recorder to remind himself about upcoming procedures. After church one day, he drove her to the place he claimed to work.
He was generous with his expertise. He gave medical advice to her colleagues. He adjusted a knee brace for her friend's father, and the father said it felt much better after that. When a friend had trouble with her prescription face cream, he told her to stop taking it and suggested an over-the-counter alternative. Sure enough, her skin cleared up.
The relationship escalated. He started sleeping at her place, and they talked about marriage and children, and one day he took her to Westchase to show her the house that would soon be theirs. One day he went shopping with her mother. They were looking for an engagement ring.
The police say his real name is Anthony James David, that he used her credit card to pay his bail bondsman, that he obtained drugs for her through fake prescriptions, that he has other victims they have yet to find, that he was arrested Saturday on charges of unlicensed practice of a health profession and delivery of a controlled substance, that he was held without bail at the Hernando County jail.
But back to Memorial Day weekend, before she knew any of this, when they flew to Key West to get engaged. Her cousin did some investigating of her own and discovered his mug shot on the Internet, from that time back in October when the police said he was posing as a doctor at Tampa General. The cousin told the parents, who drove south to break the news.
Beachside Resort, 5 a.m., May 25. The couple is asleep when they hear a knock at the door.
"This is the police," someone says.
The young woman gets up and throws on a robe, trembling with fear. She thinks someone must be dead.
At the door she sees her parents, escorted by Key West police.
"It's Anthony," her mother says. "He's not who he says he is."
The women and the police step outside for a moment, and her father steps in. He needs some time alone with his ex-future son-in-law.
Times staff writer Letitia Stein and researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Thomas Lake
can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3416.