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Missouri lawmaker convicted in medical clinics fraud scheme

Missouri Rep. Tricia Derges was convicted Tuesday of conducting fraud at medical clinics in southwest Missouri in part by falsely claiming that she was giving patients stem cell treatments.

After a two-week federal trial, Derges was convicted of 22 counts including including wire fraud, illegal distribution of controlled substances and making false statements to investigators, The Springfield News-Leader reported.

Derges, a Republican from Nixa, was an assistant physician at several clinics. Federal prosecutors argued during the trial that Derges claimed nearly $900,000 in federal funding for COVID-19 treatments that were not performed or had already been performed. They also alleged she promoted amniotic fluid as a treatment for COVID-19 and other diseases by falsely claiming it contained stem cells.

Derges’ attorney, Al Watkins, argued that she was innocent and was targeted because she provided care for underserved patients through her nonprofit clinic. He said she was naive but did not intend to deceive patients.

Derges’ narcotics license was put on probation for three years in January.

She refused to resign her Missouri House seat but was stripped of her committee assignments and barred from party caucus meetings. The state GOP blocked her from running as a Republican for reelection this fall.