Former plastic surgeon Anthony Pignataro was briefly jailed today in a probation violation case and now will be forced to wear an electronic monitoring device.
Pignataro, who lost his medical license after a patient in his care died, declined to comment after he was released from custody today. He was released after being fitted with an electronic ankle bracelet that was ordered earlier in the morning by State Supreme Court Justice Ronald H. Tills.
Court sources said Pignataro has until 9 a.m. Wednesday to post $50,000 cash bail on the probation violation charges.
Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark declined to comment on the nature of the alleged probation violation. Joel L. Daniels, Pignataro's lawyer, could not be reached to comment.
Clark has described Pignataro as a prime suspect in the poisoning of his estranged wife, Deborah, who had initiated divorce proceedings. The couple's 10-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son are living under court order with relatives.
Authorities believe an arsenic-laced bowl of soup may have been one of the agents used to poison Deborah Pignataro. The soup, which was served to Pignataro at her West Seneca home last summer, had a "metallic taste" and caused her daughter to become ill almost immediately after tasting it, law enforcement officials said.
No criminal charges have been filed in the case. Deborah Pignataro was recently released from Mercy Hospital where she was taken in the summer, suffering from arsenic poisoning. Authorities said she remains quite ill. Investigators have said they believe she is the first intentional victim of arsenic poisoning in Western New York in at least the past decade.
Both Deborah and Anthony Pignataro have extremely limited visitation rights with their children while Erie County Family Court officials try to determine whether negligence by one, or both, parents exposed the children to arsenic. A trial on the neglect charges against the Pignataros is set for Feb. 22.
In 1998, Anthony Pignataro became the first medical doctor in the region's history to be convicted of a criminally negligent homicide charge for the death of a patient. A 26-year-old mother of two died as a result of breast-enlargement surgery in Pignataro's West Seneca office in September 1997.
Pignataro served about four months of a six-month jail term Tills then imposed. He also paid a $5,000 fine and performed 250 hours of community service.
The former doctor remains on court-supervised probation over the death of his patient.