Link of robberies, clinics probe eyed

A man charged in the gunpoint robberies of Oxycontin from two local pharmacies may be tied to a pair of doctors under federal investigation for distribution of the same painkillers, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein alleged that 54-year-old Joel David Crawford’s “massive addiction” to the drugs developed in the wake of law enforcement raids of clinics operated by Dr. Sam Jahani and Dr. Eric Peper.

Rubinstein declined to elaborate when asked whether Crawford was among the doctors’ former patients.

The prosecutor’s comments were made to District Judge Thomas Deister during arguments over bond in Crawford’s case. In a lengthy prepared statement, Crawford pleaded with the judge to reduce his $200,000 bond to allow him to get out in order to support his family, retain a private attorney and prepare his defense.

Deister declined to change Crawford’s bond.

Crawford suggested his use of Oxycontin stemmed from a “traumatic brain injury I suffered when a drunk driver took me out 15 months ago.”

The Grand Junction branch of Urgent Care, a clinic operated by Jahani and Peper, was raided in November 2009 by the Drug Enforcement Administration and later closed. Neither Jahani nor Peper has been charged in the investigation, which continues.

Crawford is accused of using a pellet gun Jan. 28 to steal approximately 1,500 Oxycontin pills from Walgreens, 572 32 Road, before riding off on a mountain bike, wearing what one witness described as a surgical mask. On March 31, authorities allege he committed a gunpoint robbery at Rite Aid, 2992 F Road.

In phone calls recorded by law enforcement, Crawford admitted to his wife and sister that he was involved in both incidents, Rubinstein told Deister Tuesday.

Crawford remains under investigation for a similar robbery Aug. 2 at a Safeway pharmacy in Glenwood Springs. During Tuesday’s hearing, Crawford denied involvement.


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