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Doctor in treatment, hearing delayed

By Staff | Jul 14, 2008

Michael Sparacino

At the request of his attorney, the initial hearing for a doctor facing DWI charges has been delayed until August.

Michael Louis Sparacino, 51, of North Mankato was scheduled to appear in Faribault County District Court on Monday.

A letter received at the court administrator’s office from attorney Mark Betters explains why his client was not able to appear in court.

“The reason of this request is that my client is entering in-patient treatment at the Menninger Center in Houston, Texas, on July 2,” wrote Betters.

The letter says Sparacino’s treatment is expected to be completed by the middle of August.

Meanwhile, Ruth Martinez of the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice would not comment whether an investigation into the incident is being conducted.

“As of today all I can tell you we have not taken any actions regarding his medical license,” Martinez says.

Under state law, if a complaint is filed against Sparacino it is reviewed by a medical coordinator, who is a physician consultant to the board. Responses and records from the doctor identified in the complaint are generally requested. The matter also could be turned over to the attorney general’s office for further investigation

Once all information is gathered, a three-member Complaint Review Committee decides if disciplinary action should be taken against the physician’s license. Sparacino has been charged with third-degree driving while intoxicated/alcohol and third-degree DWI/.08/ within two hours. Both counts carry a maximum penalty of one year and a $3,000 fine. He is also charged with traffic impeding-slow speed, a misdemeanor with a $300 fine.

The charges stem from a traffic stop on May 15 in which Sparacino was impeding traffic on Highway 169, says a court complaint.

After stopping Sparacino for the traffic offense, the officer reportedly could smell alcohol.

The complaint says Sparacino admitted he had consumed a couple of alcoholic beverages, and his eyes appeared bloodshot and glazed.

According to the complaint, the North Mankato resident told Winnebago police officer Tim Dirkes he was going to work at United Hospital in Blue Earth.

A preliminary breath test showed the doctor had a blood-alcohol level of .265. Results of a breath test two hours later at Faribault County Jail showed a blood-alcohol content of .24.