GR doctor accused of writing prescriptions for cash, drugs

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids doctor faces federal charges after allegedly writing unnecessary prescriptions for thousands of opioid pills, apparently to fund his own drug habit.

Dr. Richard Piazza is accused of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court Monday.

Court documents also show Piazza lost his license in other states and once faced criminal charges in Iowa.

Most recently Piazza obtained licenses in Grand Rapids, Marquette, Bay City and Kincheloe, according to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs database. His licenses outside of Grand Rapids lapsed years ago.

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

The complaint says the DEA was tipped off about Piazza by a pharmacist who noticed he was writing a lot of prescriptions for opioids, which the pharmacist thought was odd because Piazza works at the Society of Healing Arts Institute in Grand Rapids' Eastown neighborhood, a holistic medicine clinic that also provides medical marijuana certifications.

In January 2018, investigators found someone carrying three narcotics prescriptions from Piazza made out to three people. According to the complaint, the man admitted he received a total of about 30 such prescriptions straight from Piazza. He also admitted the two others named on the prescriptions were conspiring to sell the pills on the street.

In one case, Piazza wrote him four phony prescriptions on a single day. In exchange, the man said he gave Piazza cash up to $400 per prescription or other drugs like meth.

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