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Florida Politics

Fallout Over ‘Operation Tooth Fairy’

Supporters of Dr. Howard Fetner are accusing Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis of using his office to weaponize an investigation to go after enemies of political contributors. Florida Daily reported this caught the attention of the organization known as Integrity Florida, which is calling for an independent investigation and new details on how the scheme played out.

A recent report suggested that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis played a role in directing the investigation, but our sources tell us that the executive order referred to in the report was simply boilerplate, run-of-the-mill paperwork that is routinely filed when state’s attorneys need help with a conflict of interest.

Sources tell Florida Daily that the governor is not driving this investigation, but instead, it is coming from CFO Jimmy Patronis.

Attorneys in this case say the charges filed were so flimsy that they have been rejected by a Miami-Dade state’s attorney and even the Florida Attorney General’s office.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office said that, “in good faith” it couldn’t prosecute the case.

The case now sits on the desk of Alachua County prosecutor Brian Kramer. “We feel that Kramer will surely conclude what his colleagues discovered, there is no case here,” one of the attorneys told Florida Daily.

While Florida Daily has followed both sides on this story, here is a recap of what has been covered.

Dr. Jose Mellado and his wife, Dr. Ania Cabrerizo, were paid $24.6 million, in 2022, for 70% of the non-clinical portion of their practice. However, soon after the deal closed, the two allegedly launched a toxic campaign, including disruptive behavior and abusive language toward staff, to sabotage the practice and its plans to expand. Ultimately, the board fired Mellado as CEO and brought in highly-respected Dr. Howard Fetner to take his place.

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Fetner is a 38-year Jacksonville dentist with a record so spotless that he has been reviewed 472 times, and every single one is 5 stars. Fetner was also the only link that would allow Patronis to try to get a third try for prosecution by Jacksonville State Attorney Melissa Nelson. The problem is that Nelson and her staff have personal and professional ties with Fetner, so she recused herself, causing the governor’s office to reassign the case to Kramer.

Meanwhile, Mellado and Cabrerizo immediately launched a smear campaign against Dr. Fetner and filed a civil suit to regain control of the practice. As the legal battlelines were being drawn, Mellado and his longtime friend and business associate Barbara Feingold decided to contribute to Patronis’ PAC. In September of 2022, Mellado donated $2,000; Feingold $50,000.

It was the first and only contribution either has ever made to Patronis’ PAC.

Attorneys with Dr. Fetner point out why it seems more than a coincidence that just three months later, Patronis’ detectives launched an investigation into Mellado’s enemies. According to a report in the Florida Bulldog, the effort was entitled “Operation Tooth Fairy” and was personally commanded by Patronis.

“The arrests of five people that worked under Fetner made big headlines. Now, what’s making headlines is Patronis’ desperate search for a prosecutor to take the case,” said one attorney on this case.

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