Medical Board Revokes State Addiction Doctor’s License

UPDATE: 2016-03-11, 12:35 p.m.: Anaconda-Deer Lodge Chief of Law Enforcement Tim Barkell confirmed Friday that Mark Jay Catalanello was arrested Thursday night following a hit-and-run incident east of Anaconda.

According to law enforcement officials, Catalanello was found trying to hide in a culvert after he jumped from his truck at at Hwy 48 near the Warm Springs turn-off.

According to Barkell, law enforcement dispatchers received multiple calls starting at 5:51 p.m. Thursday stating that a black Chevy truck was involved in a two-vehicle collision near the intersection of Montana Highway 1 East and Highway 43  Barkell said the driver of the black Chevy truck, which turned out to be Catalanello, attempted to leave the scene of the crash. Witnesses followed the damaged black pickup truck which was sparking as it fled. A tire was left at scene and the truck’s axle was bent, according to Barkell.

Barkell said Montana Highway Patrol Officers located the truck, which eventually stopped, at which point Catalanello “jumped out and was caught on foot.”

Barkell said Catalanello was arrested by Montana Highway Patrol officers and taken to a local hospital at 8:10 p.m. for a blood draw. Catalanello was booked in the Anaconda-Deerlodge jail on charges of failing to stop at a stop sign, driving of the influence – second offense, obstructing a peace officer, and failing to report an accident. Catalanello has since been released on $1,940 bond.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available. Montana Standard reporter Kathleen Bryan contributed to this update.

By John S. Adams, Editor-in-Chief

An adjudication panel of the Montana Board of Medical Examiners has revoked the medical license of a former state addiction treatment doctor who is facing drug charges.

Dr. Mark Jay Catalanello, who has a long history of drug abuse and felony drug arrests, came under fire last fall when staff at the Montana Chemical Dependency Center reported erratic behavior they suspected stemmed from Catalanello’s illegal drug use. The board temporarily suspended Catalanello’s license in October at an emergency meeting.

Catalanello worked for two state agencies at the time of his suspension, serving as a physician at the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs and medical director at MCDC in Butte.

The state Department of Public Health and Human Services placed Catalanello on paid administrative leave following his Sept. 29 suspension and his last day working for the state was Oct. 19, 2015.

On Friday the board unanimously voted in favor of a motion to permanently bar Dr. Mark Catalanello from practicing medicine in Montana. The decision comes on the heels of Catalanello’s arrest in Butte on March March 4. On Tuesday he pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and possession of dangerous drugs.

Catalanello was arrested on March 4 after he allegedly yelled and screamed at police and the owner and bartender at the IT Club in Rocker. Butte-Silver Bow Undersheriff George Skuletich told The Montana Standard on Monday Catalanello was belligerent, angry and made vulgar comments.

Police responded to the Living Water Coffee Co. in Rocker earlier that evening where an employee reported that Catalanello yelled and screamed at her as he waited in the drive-through. Police located his 2016 Dodge Ram pickup truck at the nearby IT Club where they found him inside.

A man named Ron Kelley spoke on Catalanello’s behalf at Friday’s adjudication hearing over the objection of the board’s attorney, Mike Fanning.

Kelley, who described himself as a friend of Catalanello, told the board via telephone that the doctor intended to be at Friday’s  hearing in Helena. Kelley said he had agreed to drive Catalanello to the hearing, but that didn’t happen because Catalanello was involved in a “severe car accident” the night before.

“Last night, about 5 or 6 p.m. he was in a severe car accident and I could not bring him over there to stand before you today,” Kelley told the board. “My assumption is that he is in jail, and probably has a DUI, but I’m not sure of that.”

The Montana Free Press has thus far not been able to confirm whether Catalanello was involved in a vehicle crash or if he was arrested on any additional charges. A call to law enforcement officials in Anaconda-Deer Lodge County, where Catalanello lives, was not immediately returned. Skuletich said no such incident occurred in Butte-Silverbow’s jurisdiction.

Kelley asked the board to consider a continued suspension of Catalanello’s medical license, rather than a full revocation, to give Catalanello time to treat his addiction.

“He has an addiction problem, as you all know,” Kelley told the board. “He’s totally aware of his problem. He’s an addiction doctor. It’s severe and he knows it. I think the state of Montana needs every doctor we can get.”

Fanning objected to Kelley’s statement to the board, arguing that Kelley, who is not a lawyer, was inappropriately advocating on Catalanello’s behalf.

“I don’t necessarily mind [Kelley] coming forward and explaining Dr. Catalanello’s absence, but he can’t advocate,” Fanning said.

Fanning told the board that Catalanello requested a hearing to dispute the allegations against him but then failed to participate in the process “in any meaningful way.” Catalanello failed to show up at pre-trial hearing last month, which led to a cancellation of his trail set for Feb. 23.

The hearing examiner in the case recommended the board indefinitely suspend Catalanello’s license, but Fanning said his recommendation was for full revocation. Fanning told the board it could take whichever action it deemed appropriate.

There was no discussion among the members of the adjudication panel on the motion to revoke Catalanello’s license, and following a unanimous vote in favor, Catalanello is now barred from practicing medicine in Montana.

Fanning told the board that Catalanello is not barred from reapplying for a medical license in Montana in the future.

Attempts to locate Catalanello for comment have to-date been unsuccessful.

This story will be updated when and if details on the alleged vehicle crash involving Catalanello can be confirmed or refuted.

The Montana Standard contributed to this report.

 

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Tags:  Addiction DPHHS drug abuse Mark Catalanello Mike Fanning Montana Board of Medical Examiners Montana Chemical Depency Center Montana State Hospital

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John S. Adams
John S. Adams is an award-winning investigative reporter who has covered Montana politics, government, and people for more than a decade. Prior to founding the Montana Free Press Adams was the statehouse bureau chief for the Great Falls Tribune and a correspondent for USA Today.




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