N. Wildwood doctor indicted in fraud case
Dr. John Costino at a July court hearing on fraud charges

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE - A North Wildwood doctor, already facing charges of drug distribution and insurance fraud, was indicted Tuesday on 62 counts of health-care claims fraud and conspiracy.

According to the lengthy indictment, the Cape May County grand jury alleged that Dr. John Costino submitted fraudulent bills for 62 patients between June 2004 and December 2007. The indictment also charges Barbara Costino, who is his wife and a registered nurse, with conspiracy to commit claims fraud.

The Cape May County Prosecutor's Office said Costino is charged with submitting to various medical insurance companies and being paid for fraudulent claims related to billing for physical therapy totaling $142,867.

Costino was arrested in September 2007 after what the Prosecutor's Office said was a long-term investigation into insurance fraud and the illegal distribution of prescription drugs by Costino.

He was indicted in that case in February 2008 on 26 counts including illegally distributing oxycodone and filing false health insurance claims, and those charges are still pending.

Most recently, the state Board of Medical Examiners revoked his physician's license indefinitely for falsifying reports to prescribe pain pills to undercover officers posing as patients, according to the state Attorney General's office. His license had been temporarily suspended since December 2007.

The Board of Medical Examiners' decision means Costino cannot apply to reinstate his license for five years.

Defense attorney Glenn Zeitz, of Haddonfield and Philadelphia, said Tuesday that he was moving to dismiss the charges from the February 2008 indictment, and he found it curious that the indictment came prior to those motions being heard.

Assistant Prosecutor Meghan Hoerner said the case was scheduled to be heard by a grand jury two weeks ago, but was delayed at Zeitz's request so he could receive pre-indictment discovery.

Zeitz said the charges against his client had no merit, and said, "We're going to vigorously attack them."

"With regard to these (new charges), I can tell you right now he's going to plead not guilty," Zeitz said.

He also questioned the charges against the doctor's wife. "All this is is an attempt to put pressure on Dr. Costino, and it's not going to work," Zeitz said.

Costino, who at the time of his arrest had been a physician for 36 years - 31 of them in Cape May County - has said the arrest and subsequent suspension of his license put his patients in jeopardy as they struggled to find new doctors.

Costino specialized in pain management, geriatric medicine and treating heroin addiction with Suboxone.

E-mail Trudi Gilfillian:

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