A doctor at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center has been suspended after he got free drugs that the state says he wasn’t entitled to, according to an indictment and comments the physician apparently posted on a state licensing Web site.
Dr. Raymond Kostromin, 49, has pleaded not guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to theft. He is scheduled to stand trial next week, but with defense motions still pending, the trial is likely to be postponed.
According to the indictment, he is accused of receiving, between Jan. 12, 2010, and Aug. 8, 2011, plastic surgery and a number of prescriptions from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The services and medications were received through the VA Healthcare System’s free-services program, which is only for veterans with certain income levels, the indictment said.
Kostromin, according to the indictment, was told he was ineligible for free care because of his income level.
“We fully expect Dr. Kostromin to be exonerated in a court of law,” said his defense attorney, Richard Goolsby Sr.
He is seeking to get the charge dismissed. Goolsby said the state lacks jurisdiction because the VA hospital and its services are under the control of the federal government. Getting his motions heard is a priority for the defense, Goolsby said.
On his physician profile page on the Georgia Composite Medical Board, Kostromin wrote that he is an internist at the Augusta VA “where I am currently on suspension due to an indictement.”
Augusta VA spokesman Pete Scovill would not say whether Kostromin was suspended but did release a statement: “Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center regrets the circumstances that led to the arrest of a staff physician. Physician named in the complaint is not currently seeing patients.”
The statement said the case was investigated by the VA Office of the Inspector General, and “that investigation led to charges by the State of Georgia.”
Kostromin’s license is still active, said Robert Jeffery, the director of operations for the Georgia licensing board. The agency “can’t confirm the presence or absence of an ongoing investigation,” he said. Kostromin is the only one who is authorized to post physician comments on his profile page, Jeffery said.
In those comments, Kostromin said he was a nine-year Army veteran.
“For a period of 1.5yrs i was dispensed medication thru the VA pharmacy” the comment reads, which lists six drugs, including an anti-depressant, an anti-seizure/panic attack medication and an erectile dysfunction drug. The comment concludes: “i have been since told that due to my income i was not eligible to received these medications – and this is what i am being charged with.”