Knoxville doctor arrested for drugs, let go from medical duties

Knoxville doctor arrested for drugs, let go from medical duties

Posted:
Michael LaPaglia (source: Knox County Sheriff's Office) Michael LaPaglia (source: Knox County Sheriff's Office)

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Knoxville doctor was arrested after drugs were found in his West Knoxville home. He has now also lost his job.

Knoxville police say they were called to Dr. Michael LaPaglia's Fox Cove Road home Monday around 11:45 p.m. because of a domestic dispute.

When officers arrived, however, they noticed a strong smell of marijuana.

Officers say they then found mason jars with marijuana residue.

Police returned to the house Tuesday morning to do an extensive search, and found signs of a previous marijuana growing operation.

In addition, police say they found vials of liquid medicine commonly dispensed in a hospital setting, more than 100 prescription pills, two pounds of marijuana, 127 marijuana pipes and bongs and other drug paraphernalia.

LaPaglia now faces several drug charges.

He has no criminal history in Knox and Anderson counties. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, he has never had any disciplinary actions taken against him.

The Fox Creek subdivision is described as a quiet neighborhood with great views. The homes are large and neighbors are nice.

Eric French has lived in the community for a year and says Dr. Michael Anthony LaPaglia and his family fit right in.

"They look like the everyday normal family. It's not something you looked at and said oh there's a problem," said French.

Neighbors tell 6 News LaPaglia was friendly. They say unknown cars were always in and out of his driveway. Now they wonder if the visitors were doing more than just dropping by.

"Shocked is the initial response. I have a son here as well and my biggest concern is I don't want those types of people in my neighborhood. You look at the type of people who were obviously visiting his home and you hope it doesn't continue because I don't want those people around my son and that's my biggest concern," said French.

Dr. LaPaglia was employed at Team Health. He did contract work with the Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge and through Team Health was the Medical Director for Anderson County EMS.

According to Team Health, once the charges were confirmed LaPaglia was removed from the schedule and no longer provides services for any Team Health client, including Anderson County EMS.

Eric French hopes the arrest will stop the illegal activity in the neighborhood because the illegal substances can cause more crime like theft and intoxicated driving.

"People driving through and not paying attention and maybe not caring who is in the way all the sudden you've got something greater on your hands like a child being struck," said French.

In unrelated cases, LaPaglia is facing two federal lawsuits. The plaintiffs claim the police asked LaPaglia to do a rectal exam on the plaintiffs to search for drugs. The suits claim he did the exam without consent.

The two lawsuits are still pending.

Dr. LaPaglia will be in court on September 11 for bonded arraignment on the drug charges.

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