New Milford Men, Emerson Doctor Charged In Alleged Pill Ring

Men implicated with Emerson podiatrist allegedly selling prescriptions for Oxycodone

An Emerson doctor, the son of the Emerson mayor and two New Milford men are among thirteen people charged in an Oxycodone distribution ring, authorities said.

Dr. Carnig Shakarjian of the Ankle & Foot Health Care & Trauma Institute in Emerson was charged with writing prescriptions for high doses of Oxycodone, and New Milford residents Mario Jimenez of Madison Avenue and James Powers of Boulevard were charged with drug offenses, according to a release from the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.

Jimenez was charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance on school property and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, authorities said. He was released on $25,000 bail. 

Powers was charged with possession of a controlled substance and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, authorities said. He was released on his own recognizance.

In August, detectives in the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office Narcotics Task Force received information that Shakarjian, a podiatrist, was writing high-dose prescriptions for Oxycodone for more than 100 people who, for the most part, resided in Emerson and the surrounding towns, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said in a statement. 

A review of pharmacy records subpoenaed by detectives revealed that "over 100 people had received prescription(s) for Oxycodone" that were filled at various pharmacies, Molinelli said in the statement.

A local pharmacist who asked his name not be used said that he often calls doctors to verify prescriptions for Oxycodone.

"Sometimes I know a person is giving me a prescription for Oxycodone even before they hand it to me," he said. "Usually, they come in shaking and nervous and their eyes are darting around. Anytime I see that, I refuse to fill the prescription. It's a highly addictive narcotic that many doctors are too quick to fill out a prescription for."

During the course of the investigation, detectives were able to arrange a “purchase” of two prescriptions for Oxycodone from Shakarjian.

A search warrant was executed for Ankle & Foot Health Care Institute where detectives compared a list of people filling prescriptions for Oxycodone, written by Shakarjian, to a patient list seized during the search warrant. These records indicated that more than 50 people who filled prescriptions for Oxycodone were not believed to be patients of Shakarjian, authorities said.

As the investigation continued, authorities allege, detectives discovered that Robert Waananen of Emerson, a "friend and patient" of Sharkarjian, "conspired" with him to sell prescriptions for Oxycodone, in addition to other "controlled substances." 

Sean Colina of Emerson, an "associate of Waananen" and the son of Emerson Mayor Carlos Colina, was also arrested and charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance and obtaining a controlled dangerous substance by fraud. He was released on his own recognizance.

The Board of Medical Examiners suspended Shakarjian from the practice of podiatry pending further action of the Board.

Assisting the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office with the investigation was the New Milford Police Department, Emerson Police Department, Dumont Police Department, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Division of Consumer Affairs, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, Newark Field Division Pharmaceutical Diversion Unit.




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