CLEARWATER — A Pinellas County sheriff's deputy has been demoted in the wake of her arrest last fall on multiple charges of "doctor shopping" to illegally obtain prescription pills.
Michelle Licavoli, 42, a corrections officer at the Pinellas County Jail, was reduced in rank from corporal to deputy last month by Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, according to records of an internal affairs investigation released this week. Court records state that Licavoli lives in Clearwater.
Licavoli was arrested by Clearwater police Sept. 20 on three felony counts of doctor shopping, according to jail records. Sheriff's Office records state that the charges were resolved by the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office through a pretrial intervention program.
As part of the discipline meted out by the Sheriff's Office, Licavoli also received a seven-day suspension. However, those days were rolled into 3 1/2 months of unpaid leave Licavoli had already served during the internal investigation, Gualtieri said.
Licavoli could not be reached for comment.
Gualtieri said he believed the discipline was appropriate for a Sheriff's Office employee who had struggled with what was, at its root, a medical problem. He said Licavoli became addicted to pain pills originally prescribed to her because of health problems.
"This is a person, in many respects, who is a victim of circumstance, because she was an addict. Luckily for her, she got caught," Gualtieri said.
He said Licavoli's arrest highlights the extent to which substance-abuse problems — in particular, addiction to pain-relieving prescription narcotics, which in recent years has posed such a problem in Pinellas County — can affect anyone, even a sworn corrections officer.
"With what we face in this problem, as a society, but for the grace of God, there go any of us," Gualtieri said.
Licavoli's ex-husband, former Pinellas sheriff's Deputy Robert F. Johnson, resigned last month after being confronted with multiple misconduct allegations. Among other things, he was accused of alerting Licavoli that she was the subject of a drug investigation before her arrest. Johnson was also accused of trying to pick up a prostitute.
Clearwater police said reports on their investigation of Licavoli were not immediately available.
Peter Jamison can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4157. To write a letter to the editor, visit tampabay.com/letters.