News and Press Releases

FORMER PHYSICIAN AND FORMER PHARMACIST SENTENCED

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 4, 2010

A former Michigan physician was sentenced today to 80 months in prison for unlawfully prescribing OxyContin, and a former Michigan pharmacist was sentenced on December 10, 2010, to 36 months in prison for his part in filling those unlawful prescriptions, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced.

Joining in the announcement were Robert L. Corso, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Detroit Field Division, and Andrew Arena, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit Division.

Sohrab Shafinia, 49, of Keego Harbor, and Richard Riozzi, 43, of Clinton Township, were sentenced by United States District Judge Julian Abele Cook, Jr.

Shafinia pleaded guilty in September, 2009, to one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. Riozzi pleaded guilty to the same charge in January, 2010. The charge against Shafinia was based on his using his then position as a physician to write hundreds of fraudulent OxyContin prescriptions, among other fraudulent prescriptions, in exchange for cash in 2006 and 2007. The charge against Riozzi was based on his filling those fraudulent prescriptions, and others, while employed as the pharmacist at SafeScript Pharmacy in Farmington Hills, Michigan, despite having strong reasons to be aware that the OxyContin prescriptions were not legitimate. In addition to filling the prescriptions written by Shafinia, Riozzi also filled OxyContin prescriptions that were supported by the forged signature of another physician, and on multiple occasions accepted cash from the person who brought those prescriptions to SafeScript to be filled. The actions of Shafinia and Riozzi enabled thousands of 80 mg. OxyContin tablets to be distributed unlawfully.

Judge Cook stated that Shafinia "traded his professional license for a few dollars," to distribute OxyContin to people he never even met. Judge Cook stated that despite the many people who wrote to the court to praise Shafinia's good work, a significant term of imprisonment was necessary to communicate that this offense conduct will not be tolerated by the general public.

At Riozzi’s sentencing, Judge Cook noted that Mr. Riozzi failed to live up to the trust placed in him by the public in granting him the license to practice pharmacy. Judge Cook also noted the importance that this sentence communicate to others in the professional community that violation of the public trust will lead to an appreciable term of imprisonment.

In addition to the terms of imprisonment, Judge Cook sentenced both Shafinia and Riozzi to three years of supervised release.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Corso stated, "The DEA has made it a priority to address the dangerous practice of illegally diverting prescription medications. As a physician and pharmacist, Dr. Shafinia and Mr. Riozzi violated the public trust by conspiring to illegally divert over a million prescription drug dosage units to the black market. Prescription drugs such as Oxycontin and Methadone are controlled substances, because if they are abused, they can lead to addiction, illness, or even death. Southeast Michigan is a safer place with the incarcerations of Dr. Shafinia and Mr. Riozzi. The prison sentences received by Shafinia and Riozzi make it clear that the DEA, and our partners in law enforcement, will continue to utilize our investigative techniques to bring to justice that small number of medical professionals that are responsible for the illegal distribution of prescription drugs."

United States Attorney McQuade thanked the DEA and FBI for their successful investigation of this case, which was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Stephanie Dawkins Davis and Lynn Helland.

 

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