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Sarasota-Manatee
Business Observer Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021 5 months ago

Prominent Sarasota oncologist arrested for prescription and insurance fraud

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Head of Dattoli Cancer Center faces charges for procuring controlled substances illegally
by: Louis Llovio Commercial Real Estate Editor

SARASOTA — Dr. Michael Dattoli, a prominent oncologist and head of the Dattoli Cancer Center in Sarasota, was arrested Thursday, Dec. 16, for prescription and insurance fraud after investigators found he’d allegedly called in prescriptions in his wife’s name using another health care provider's information.

Dattoli, 64, is charged with three counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, three counts of criminal use of personal identification and three counts of insurance fraud. He was being held at the Sarasota County Jail Thursday evening. A call to the Dattoli Cancer Center for comment went unanswered late Thursday. 

According to the arrest warrant, investigators with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Pharmaceutical Diversion Unit first began looking into prescription fraud that happened in 2019 and 2020 involving Dattoli and a victim.

SARASOTA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Michael Dattoli, head of the Dattoli Cancer Center in Sarasota, was arrested Thursday, Dec. 16

Police have redacted the name of the victim and his position at the cancer center in the warrant. The warrant does mention more than once that the victim treated patients.

County investigators notified Sarasota Police in August that two of the pharmacies involved were in the city. Prescription for 10 milligrams of Diazepam (valium), a controlled substance, with five refills had been sent to a Walgreens on Fruitville Road in the name of Rita Beatrice Dattoli, Dattoli’s wife. The prescription was filled three times, authorities contend. 

According to the pharmacist, the prescription had been called in by the unnamed victim and picked up by Michael Dattoli, who provided his driver’s license as identification, police say. 

Investigators then visited a second Walgreens on Fruitville Road, where the prescription had been forwarded. The pharmacist there was able to confirm it was filled twice more and Dattoli was the person who picked up the medicine, officials say. 

The unnamed victim, who’d left the cancer center at the end of 2020 after five years, told investigators that when he checked his account on E-FORCSE — the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program — he found several fraudulent prescriptions written to Rita Beatrice Dattoli.

In an interview with investigators, the victim “stated he never authorized this prescription and also stated (on his own) that Beatrice Dattoli was never a patient of his," according to a statement from SPD. He also told investigators Diazepam was not a prescription he’d ever phone in for patients or prescribe at that high a dosage or with that many refills.

Rita Beatrice Dattoli, who was interviewed Oct. 22, told investigators she had no prescriptions for controlled substance and she had never been a patient of the unnamed victim. Shown copies of the called-in prescriptions, she denied they were hers and said she’d never taken that medication. 

She also told the detectives she’d “never given anyone permission to utilize her name to obtain prescriptions either,” according to the warrant.

Police then subpoenaed Dattoli's bank records in November and found the purchases for the fraudulent prescriptions. Investigators subpoenaed his insurance company in December and found the prescriptions had been submitted.

The arrest warrant was sworn out Dec. 14. The investigation is ongoing, and SPD detectives, in the statement, say they "believe there may be additional victims."

This is not the first time Dattoli has been in trouble with police in Sarasota County. He was charged in Longboat Key in 2015 after shoplifting eight items from a Publix Super Market. In that case, court records say the store manager saw Dattoli enter the store with empty bags, fill them and leave.

When confronted outside the store, according to the police report, he told the store manager, “I don’t have time for this” and left the items. Among the products in the bag were So Del Ice Cream, asparagus and Just for Men hair dye.

The store manager was able to identify the doctor from pictures on the Dattoli Cancer website and told police “he has done the same thing on two other occasions.”

Dattoli was issued an order to appear and eventually entered a pre-trial intervention program where he was to serve 25 hours of community service, attend a theft offender class and make a $500 donation to the United Way.

The charge was dismissed in 2016 when the terms were completed, according to online court records.

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