Grand Rapids doctor indicted for bad opioid prescriptions

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A grand jury indicted an area doctor Wednesday accused of improperly prescribing thousands of opioid prescriptions.

Richard Piazza was indicted on multiple counts on Feb. 27, including one for distributing controlled substances and three for possessing those same substances.

In a criminal complaint, a Drug Enforcement Administration task force member said Piazza had been writing bad prescriptions for opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone and Dilaudid and anti-anxiety medications like diazepam since December 2017.

Court documents note the DEA was tipped off by a pharmacist who noticed he was writing thousands of prescriptions for opioids. The pharmacist thought it was odd given Piazza worked at the Society of Healing Arts Institute in Grand Rapids’ Eastown neighborhood, a holistic medicine clinic.

Clinic owner Paul Farage said he hired Piazza to certify people for medical marijuana, but had to fire him in the summer of 2018.

“I found out the beginning of January, or maybe March, that something was going on because we were getting calls from pharmacies about prescriptions that were not being done here,” Farage told 24 Hour News 8 last month.

“There were too many people he was bringing in through the back door,” Farage said. “I did not put together that any of them could be here illegally or getting prescriptions illegally. What I saw was that the doctor had a side business and was not including this office.”

Two men told investigators in January of 2018 they got prescriptions from Piazza so they could sell the pills on the street. In exchange, they gave him money or other drugs, including crystal meth.

Piazza, an osteopathic medicine doctor, previously gave up his licenses in Kansas for over-prescribing and in California for an unknown reason.

The investigation into his practices here in Michigan will continue.

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