CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — The one word the lead Drug Enforcement Administration investigator told two undercover officers not to say when they visited Dr. John Costino was pain.
But the original transcript of an Aug. 3, 2007 conversation between DEA special agent Margarita Abbattiscianni and Costino included the word in a brief exchange between the two.
“Maggie,what’s wrong,” Costino asked as Abbattiscianni posed as an exotic dancer.
“It’s just the pain and up all night, long hours,” she replied
Or did she?
Abbattiscianni testified in Superior Court on Friday that she never used the word.
“I knew that I didn’t say pain,” she told jurors in Costino’s drug distribution and health care claims fraud trial.
During two previous hearings, Abbattiscianni said she had reviewed the transcript, explaining that it was described to her as an official transcript, and on those occasions she agreed the transcript was accurate.
But on Friday, during questioning by Assistant Prosecutor Dara Paley, she told jurors that the transcript was wrong.
“I believe I said it was the same,” she said, explaining that she said the word same and not pain.
The word pain was to be avoided because the investigation into Costino’s office made use of two undercover officers posing as exotic dancers. They were not supposed to offer any legitimate medical reason to Costino for their desire to obtain Percocet, a pain killer and controlled substance.
Costino prescribed the drug to Abbattiscianni and police officer, Tonya Anderson, in the course of an investigation that ran from April to August 2007.
Defense attorney John Tumelty challenged Abbattiscianni, pointing to her prior testimony in which she agreed the transcript was correct.
Tumelty also highlighted at least one other occasion when she said the word, telling Costino “so there’s not much pain.”
Tumelty said Abbattiscianni’s plan was to give Costino conflicting information in an attempt to get the doctor to prescribe Percocet.
“My plan was to go in there and get a prescription and not mention the word pain,” she said.
Costino was arrested in September 2007 and faces nine counts of drug distribution and seven counts of health care claims fraud based on the undercover investigation.
The state rested its case Friday afternoon and the defense has begun presenting its case. The trial is expected to resume Tuesday depending on the path of Hurricane Sandy.
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