Dr. Cali Estes - The Addictions Academy ®

South Florida Pill MILL doc goes to trial

According to records filed in federal court in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, Piazza worked at Margate Pain Management from Oct. 20, 2009, until Aug. 2, 2010, charging patients between $250 and $350 on their first visits and between $150 and $250 for return visits. The payments, according to the charges, had to be made in cash – the clinic did not accept checks or insurance.

Prosecutors say Piazza personally earned $253,800 in the nine and a half months he worked at the clinic. In that same period, he allegedly prescribed 152,774 pills.

The charges describe Piazza as a co-owner of the operation, though the business was still running and changed its name to Total Medical Express some time after he stopped working there. Total Medical Express was raided and shut down in June 2011, resulting in six arrests, including two doctors.

In addition to the possible prison time, Piazza would be subject to three years of probation, a $250,000 fine and forfeiture of all the money he made if he’s convicted.

Todd Weicholz, the Boca Raton attorney representing Piazza, said he would not comment on the allegations because he has not had enough time to review the charges, which were filed Thursday.

Piazza is due in federal court in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday.

Federal crackdowns on pill mill operations in South Florida have met with significant results, with some setbacks. Earlier this month, Deerfield Beach doctor Charles Neuringer, 73, was sentenced to 21 months in prison for authorizing thousands of unneeded prescriptions out of Coast to Coast Healthcare Management Clinic.

Guilty pleas were entered by 28 of 30 defendants charged in connection with South Florida pill mills owned by Christopher George: American Pain in Fort Lauderdale and Executive Pain in Lake Worth.

Two of the doctors took their case to trial. Cynthia Cadet and Joseph Castronuovo were acquitted by a federal jury in West Palm Beach of charges accusing them of overprescribing oxycodone and other drugs, but convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

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