San Rafael man pleads guilty to illegally distributing oxycodone for cash.
Former physician Michael Roger Chiarottino, of San Rafael, was sentenced by a federal judge to three years in prison for prescribing painkillers in exchange for cash.
The July 19, 2016, sentence follows Chiarottino’s guilty plea to one federal charge of distribution of oxycodone outside the usual course of professional practice and without a legitimate medical purpose.
Chiarottino was initially charged with 15 counts of distribution of controlled substances including oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone and methadone. As part of his plea, Chiarottino admitted that on six occasions between February 12, 2013, and March 6, 2014, he prescribed controlled substances in exchange for cash to undercover Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents posing as patients.
On each occasion, Chiarottino failed to conduct an appropriate medical examination or obtain a sufficient patient medical history from the undercover agent to support a prescription for the narcotics he prescribed.
Chiarottino was initially investigated by the Health Quality Investigation Unit (HQIU) Pleasant Hill and San Jose Field offices of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation after concerns were raised about his prescribing practices between 2010 and 2012.
During the two-year investigation, HQIU investigators worked with the DEA, Livermore Police Department and Pleasanton Police Department to conduct undercover operations and serve search warrants on Chiarottino’s home and business.
The investigation resulted in an accusation filed by the Medical Board of California in 2014, which alleged that Chiarottino had engaged in unprofessional conduct including gross negligence, repeated negligent acts, incompetence, excessive prescribing and inadequate record-keeping during his care of five patients. Chiarottino surrendered his medical license on June 10, 2015.
A copy of the Medical Board of California documents can be read here.
The Drug Enforcement Agency’s news release can be read here.
The United States Attorney’s Office news release can be read here.