Former state hospital doctor arrested on drug charges

A former state doctor who is facing an indefinite suspension of his medical license for alleged illegal drug use was arrested in Butte Friday night on misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and possession of dangerous drugs.

Mark Jay Catalanello was a staff physician at the Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs and served as the medical director at the Montana Chemical Dependency Center in Butte until October, when the Montana Board of Medical Examiners temporarily suspended his medical license amid accusations that he was using illegal drugs.

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Mark Jay Catalanello

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

Catalanello has a long history of drug and alcohol abuse and has had his medical license suspended in Montana and revoked in California following felony drug arrests in 2001 and 2005.

A Montana Free Press investigation into Catalanello that began more than a year ago uncovered a lengthy record of drug and alcohol abuse, felony arrests, failed rehabilitation, refusals to participate in mandated drug and alcohol screenings, and suspended and revoked medical licenses in Montana and California.

Butte police officials on Saturday refused to release details of Catalanello’s arrest, but a jailer confirmed that Catalanello had been taken into custody Friday night. As of this writing Catalanello was being held on a $995 bond.

A source with knowledge of the circumstances surrounding Catalanello’s arrest contacted the Montana Free Press on Saturday. The source said police were called after Catalanello reportedly created a “disturbance” at a drive­-through restaurant in Rocker, just west of Butte. The source said Catalanello was located by police at a nearby bar and was “extremely agitated and confrontational” with police before being arrested.

A spokesman for the Butte Police Department directed questions about the case to Butte Undersheriff George Skuletich, who was out of the office until Monday. An email sent to Skuletich seeking additional information was not immediately answered.

Last month Catalanello failed to show up at a trial before a Montana Department of Labor hearings examiner to defend himself against allegations leveled in October that he relapsed in violation of the board ­imposed terms that allowed him to get his medical license back following a 2005 suspension.

An adjudication panel of the Montana Board of Medical Examiners is expected to take up Catalanello’s case at a meeting in Helena on March 11. The panel is expected to consider a recommendation that Catalanello’s medical license be suspended indefinitely.

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