- Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa announced
that an Essex County man pleaded guilty
today to leading a Newark-based narcotics
ring that distributed millions of dollars
a year in illegal prescription painkillers.
Hassanain, 46, of West Orange, pleaded guilty
to second-degree charges of racketeering
and distribution of narcotics before Superior
Court Judge Joseph C. Cassini III in Essex
County. Under the plea agreement, the state
will recommend that Hassanain be sentenced
to 15 years in state prison. Hassanain previously
pleaded guilty in 2009 to racketeering and
money laundering, both in the second-degree,
but the court allowed him to withdraw that
plea based on his claim that he was under
the influence of narcotics when he entered
it. Judge Cassini scheduled Hassanain to
be sentenced on the new plea on July 23.
Deputy Attorney General Mark Eliades, Chief
of the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs
& Organized Crime Bureau, and Deputy
Attorney General Betty Rodriguez took the
plea from Hassanain today. In pleading guilty,
Hassanain admitted that from July 2005 to
January 2007, he led a narcotics ring that
sold approximately 40,000 OxyContin and
Percocet pills per week, mostly to a distribution
ring based in the Bronx, N.Y. The Bronx
ring in turn sold some of the drugs to a
ring in the Boston area.
Hassanain and 18 other members of his ring
were charged in an Aug. 2, 2007 state grand
jury indictment that stemmed from “Operation
Pandora,” an investigation by the
New Jersey State Police and the Division
of Criminal Justice. All but two of the
defendants have pleaded guilty and have
been sentenced to substantial prison terms
or are facing prison terms upon sentencing.
The investigation determined that Hassanain
and his deputies within the ring provided
several hundred names a week to Dr. Mario
Comensanas, 56, of Livingston, who was paid
up to $100 per name to write a “set”
of prescriptions – including 60 OxyContin
pills, 90 Percocet pills and vitamins –
for patients who did not exist or who were
never seen by the doctor. Comesanas was
sentenced to 15 years in prison on May 26,
2010 after pleading guilty to first-degree
racketeering and second-degree distribution
would take the fraudulent prescriptions
to various pharmacies to have them filled.
In exchange for cash, Hassanain’s
cousin, pharmacist Ahmed F. “Felix”
Aly, 38, of Union, knowingly filled the
forged prescriptions at his pharmacy, RGN
Pharmacy on Elizabeth Avenue in Newark.
Aly pleaded guilty to racketeering on Oct.
30, 2009 and is awaiting sentencing.
ran the ring from his home in West Orange
and his business on Clinton Avenue in Newark.
He maintained various “stash”
houses where he would accumulate thousands
of pills per week for wholesale distribution.
The pills were packaged in bulk, and individuals
from the Bronx would come weekly to purchase
them from Hassanain for tens of thousands
Jan. 25, 2007, the investigating agencies
arrested most of the ring members and executed
search warrants at 10 locations and upon
five vehicles utilized by the enterprise.
More than 40,000 narcotics pills, about
$675,000 in cash, nine weapons, and thousands
of prescriptions, both blank and executed,
the plea agreement, Hassanain must forfeit
11 parcels of real property he owns in Essex
County, worth over $1million in total, and
a Mercedes S-550, all of which were seized
in the investigation as proceeds of the
criminal enterprise. He forfeited any claim
to the cash seized during the investigation.
General Chiesa credited Detective Thomas
McEnroe and others within the State Police
Major Crime and Intelligence Units and detectives
in the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs
& Organized Crime Bureau North Squad
for the investigation. He also credited
the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
New Jersey Division, the Essex County Prosecutor’s
Office, members of the NY/NJ High-Intensity
Drug Trafficking Areas program, and the
New York State Police for assisting in the