Monday, April 25, 2016

Marin Doctor Pleads Guilty To Prescribing Controlled Substances (Oxycodone, Methadone, Hydrocodone) Outside Course of Professional Practice and Without Legitimate Medical Purpose

On March 9, 2016, Dr. Michael Roger Chiarottino pleaded guilty in federal court in Oakland to distribution of oxycodone outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.

In pleading guilty, Dr. Chiarottino, 67, of San Rafael, admitted that on six occasions between February 12, 2013, and March 6, 2014, he prescribed large quantities of controlled substances (including oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, methadone, and hydrocodone) to undercover DEA agents posing as patients in exchange for cash. 

On each occasion, Dr. Chiarottino admitted that he failed to conduct an appropriate medical examination of, or obtain a sufficient patient medical history from, the undercover agent to support a prescription for such a large quantity of narcotics. 

In total, Dr. Chiarottino prescribed 46.8 grams of oxycodone which amounts to 1,530 thirty-milligram pills.  Dr. Chiarottino admitted that in prescribing the pills, he did so with the intent to act outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose. 

Dr. Chiarottino also admitted that, as a licensed physician and DEA registrant, he abused a position of trust and used a special skill to intentionally prescribe controlled substances without a legitimate medical purpose. 

Dr. Chiarottino was indicted by a federal grand jury on September 14, 2014.  He was charged with fifteen counts of distribution of controlled substances in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1).  Pursuant to the agreement, Dr. Chiarottino pleaded guilty to one count of distributing oxycodone, a Schedule II Controlled Substance. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 14, 2016 before Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland, California.

Attorney Commentary: Dr. Chiarottino appears to have had his own personal issues that led to this case. He was a pain management doctor who ended up with his own addiction issues and was arrested for driving under the influence and possession of narcotics prior to being indicted. He surrendered his physician license to the Medical Board on June 10, 2015 after there was an interim suspension order.

The decision making impairment issues that a physician has with depression or substance abuse tend to lead to other issues such as the ones that occurred in this case. Physicians and professionals with personal issues need to address them at the earliest possible time since they tend to snowball and lead to greater issues. The cases we see tend to show physicians who have impaired medical judgment for a variety of reasons rather than some grand scheme to prescribe controlled substances to drug addicts.

Posted by Tracy Green, Esq.
Office: 213-233-2261


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