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Emerson podiatrist charged with running Oxy prescription mill

Photo Credit: Courtesy Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office
Photo Credit: Courtesy Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office

CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAS IT FIRST: Undercover detectives have charged an Emerson podiatrist with writing high-dose Oxycodone prescriptions by the dozen for people in and around town in exchange for a fee from a local bodybuilder and another man who acted as black-market brokers.

Carnig Shakarjian (MUGSHOT: Courtesy Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office)

Several alleged buyers, most of them from Emerson, were also scooped up and charged by investigators from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office in recent months.

Dr. Carnig Shakarjian, 49, of Park Ridge, already was facing charges following his arrest for illegally dispensing Ecstasy. He had been free on $50,000 bail when the new charges were announced today.

Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said Shakarjian “was prescribing a large volume of Oxycodone” from his Ankle and Foot Health Care Institute on Kinderkamack Road.

The highly powerful opiate, similar in many ways to heroin and morphine, is used to relieve severe pain.

After obtaining subpoenas that they served to local and corporate pharmacies, detectives found that Shakarjian had prescribed the drug, in 60-pill dosages of 30 mg, to more than 100 people, many of them in their 20s and 30s, the prosecutor said. The scripts were filled at various area pharmacies, he said.

Detectives arranged to get two prescriptions, each for the same amount and dosage, from Shakarjian, which “were provided in exchange for money and served no legitimate medical purpose,” Molinelli said.

Robert Waananen

The investigators were jointed by agents from the DEA and the state Division of Consumer Affairs in a warranted search of the doctor’s office last Friday. The DCA detectives “examined medical records,
provided expertise on state medical rules and regulations, and participated” in questioning Shakarjian.

A comparison list of those people filling Shakarjian’s prescriptions for Oxycodone with one seized during the search turned up the names of 50 people who weren’t his patients, Molinelli said.

This eventually led to bodybuilder Robert Waananen, 35, a friend and patient who, the prosecutor said, began conspiring with the doctor to sell prescriptions for various drugs.

Waananen, collected lists of names and birth dates of buyers that he gave Shararjian, while paying the podiatrist a set price per prescription, Molinelli said.

One of the alleged buyers, Sean Colina, 27, became a “patient” of Shakarjian’s in April, and began getting Oxycodone prescriptions for himself and others, producing the same type of list as Waananen, the prosecutor said. Records show he was arrested in June on charges of fraudulently obtaining prescription drugs.

Shakarjian is charged with several counts of dealing drugs.

Charged with participating in the scheme are Colina and Waananen, both of Emerson, as well as fellow borough residents:


Also charged were:
DANIEL KESSEL, 25, of Hillsdale;
CHARLES REIGERT, 23, of Dumont;
MARIO JIMENEZ, 43, and JAMES J. POWERS, 42, both of New Milford.

During the investigation, the state Board of Medical Examiners reached an Interim Consent Order with Shakarjian suspending him from practice pending further action, Molinelli said.

“The illegal distribution and misuse of prescription drugs is a crisis that law enforcement agencies across the country are working to address,” said state DCA Director Thomas R. Calcagni. “Our investigators are ready to assist and work with all law enforcement agencies on this public healthcare issue, and I want to commend Prosecutor Molinelli and his staff for reaching out to us.”

Oxycodone is popular among users because they know how much they’re getting, as opposed to the risk of buying heroin off the street. They can also take or crush the pills instead of having to inject the drug. Federal regulations say it “may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.”

Molinelli also credited the state AG’s Office and police departments in Emerson, Dumont and New Milford.

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