An Emerson podiatrist accepted a deal from prosecutors under which he’ll go to prison for no more than five years in exchange for pleading guilty to a single count of conspiring to sell high-dose Oxycodone to black-market brokers.
Carnig C. Shakarjian could also be fined $250,000, lose his medical license and be barred from seeking re-instatement for five years or until his criminal sentence is complete, whichever is longer.
If convicted at a trial of the most serious charge — heading a drug trafficking network — Shakarjian could have faced up to 20 years in prison.
Instead, he pleaded guilty today in Superior Court.
Shakarjian, 50, of Park Ridge, remains free on $50,000 bail pending sentencing.
A dozen co-defendants named in the original 16-county grand jury indictment against him have yet to face the charges. They include Sean Colina, the son of Emerson Mayor Carlos Colina, and local bodybuilder Robert Waananen.
- CLIFFVIEW PILOT HAD 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. READ MORE ….
Bergen County 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.
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, the prosecutor said.
The DCA detectives “examined medical records, provided expertise on state medical rules and regulations, and participated” in questioning Shakarjian, he said.
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 Waananen, 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 to Shararjian, while paying the podiatrist a set price per prescription, Molinelli said.
Colina became a “patient” of Shakarjian’s in April 2011 and began getting Oxycodone prescriptions for himself and others, producing the same type of list as Waananen, the prosecutor said.
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.
STORY, PHOTO (above) by Mary K. Miraglia
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.