WEST ORANGE — An Essex County cardiologist will be permanently banned from practicing medicine after it was determined he under-reported the balance of his practice's retirement fund in order to keep millions for himself.

Mario Criscito, a former partner at Diagnostic and Clinical Cardiology, had previously surrendered his license voluntarily after he was found liable for underreporting more than $12 million from the retirement he was the sole trustee of, Attorney General Christopher Porrino said Tuesday.

Porrino said the practice's pension plan included 17 doctors and staff members, and that in December 1999, just one month before money in the fund was to be distributed to individual accounts, Criscito filed a fraudulent year-end report to the American Pension Corporation (APC).  As a result, Porrino said money was still distributed to the members, but significantly less than they should have received.

Criscito becomes the latest doctor to lose his license, and one of a few that have lost them permanently.

A New Jersey 101.5 investigation revealed this week that few doctors accused or convicted of sexual crimes have have had their licenses permanently revoked — and many continue to work in the medical profession. 

"As a result of Dr. Criscito's failure to reveal the true value of DCC's commingled pension account, members were shortchanged millions of dollars when the assets were divided up," Steve Lee, director of the Division of Consumer Affairs said. "This kind of dishonesty and deceptive behavior are an egregious violation of professional standards that warrant the permanent revocation of Dr. Criscito's medical license."

While his colleagues received less money than they should have from the fund Porrino said Criscito used the money "on personal investments, resort memberships, and to pad his own bank account."

In 2008, Criscito's partners filed a federal lawsuit against him.  District court and Third Circuit Court of Appeals judges ruled that the doctor had violated his fiduciary duty to the practice and awarded the partners $4.18 million in damages and interest as well as court fees and other costs.

The district court judge said Criscito had taken "affirmative steps" to hide what he had done, including having the APC send documents to his home address and directing them to only talk to him about the accounts.

The process to have Criscito's license revoked started in January 2014. A summary judgement was sought in August of that year and the judgement was granted in December 2016.

"The fact that Criscito fraudulently misreported the account balances of the commingled accounts in 1999 by a staggering amount of more than $12,000,000 constitutes dishonest, fraudulent, deceptive, or misrepresentative conduct under (state law)," Judge Jeffrey Gerson said in the decision. "Additionally, misrepresenting account balances by more than $12,000,000 is conduct that may lower the standing and trustworthiness of the medical profession in the eyes of the public."

In addition to agreeing to have his license revoked Criscito also agreed to pay $35,000 in attorney's fees to the state.

Porrino said while Criscito had originally agreed to the revocation he "sought an eleventh hour stay of the effective date," and an appeal is still pending.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com

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