Pill Mill Attorney with Joyce and Reyes Remarks on South Florida Doctor’s Guilty Plea
Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) October 15, 2013 - A physician co-owner of a pain clinic in Margate, Fla., pleaded guilty to the improper prescription of opioid painkillers.
Joseph Francis Piazza, 62, worked at Margate Pain Management Clinic for just over nine months beginning in October, 2009, and ending in August, 2010. According to prosecutors, he prescribed 152,774 pills of oxycodone and related addictive painkillers and personally earned $253,800 during that time period.
“The alleged improper prescriptions in this case took place before Florida's crackdown on pill mills,” said Tampa pill mill attorney Robert Joyce. “This sort of activity was so widespread that authorities are still filing charges against doctors and prosecuting the cases years later. The new laws that went into effect in 2011 are having a very significant and positive effect. It is still possible, of course, for doctors to improperly prescribe oxycodone and other addictive drugs, but it is now far more difficult.”
Piazza was charged in federal court in Fort Lauderdale with felony conspiracy to illegally dispense controlled substances. The maximum penalty for the charge is five years imprisonment, three years probation, $250,000 in fines, and forfeiture of all income acquired in his practice.
The work of two informants posing as pain patients was the foundation of investigators' case against Piazza. One met with the doctor on August 30, 2009. In an appointment lasting just under 11 minutes, Piazza asked just four questions before prescribing oxycodone, muscle relaxant Soma, and sedative Ativan. The other informant met with Piazza on April 2, 2010 for less than five minutes before acquiring prescriptions for oxycodone and sedative Xanax. In both cases, Piazza did not examine the patient or discuss available alternatives to addictive medication, but his reports indicated that he did, prosecutors say.
Piazza surrendered his medical license and remains free on bond of $150,000 until his sentencing hearing, scheduled for November 18, 2013.
“For those patients and their families who were harmed by addictive painkillers, perhaps prescribed with little regard for patient health and safety, it is not too late to pursue legal action,” Joyce added. “They should consult with an experienced attorney to explore their options.”
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