GRAND RAPIDS — The Department of Justice announced Tuesday the sentencing of Dr. Richard Samuel Piazza in a case of writing illegal opioid prescriptions.

Piazza received 71 months in federal prison plus three years of supervised release, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Western District of Michigan. Piazza pleaded guilty to three counts of distribution of controlled substances related to writing opioid prescriptions for no legitimate medical reason, according to the press release.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office participated in conducting a search warrant in 2019 on a residence just inside the Village of Baldwin related to the federal investigation of Piazza, Det./Lt. Brad Nixon told the Daily News. The case was also investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Internal Revenue Service and the Michigan State Police.

Piazza wrote illegal prescriptions for thousands of opioids in exchange for cash or a kickback for a portion of the pills. U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff described Piazza’s behavior, in the release, as “an attack on the integrity of the medical profession.” Neff imposed the sentence.

“Dr. Piazza stands convicted of the same offenses we charge against street corner drug dealers,” stated U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge in the release. “Those who feed the opioid crisis by writing prescriptions for no legitimate medical purpose deserve to be treated this way under the law. In some ways, Dr. Piazza’s behavior was worse than that of a street dealer because his status as a doctor gave his actions a false appearance of legitimacy.”

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