Missouri State Lawmaker Resigns After Conviction on Multiple Charges, Including Fraud

1 month ago

A Missouri lawmaker has resigned from the state’s House of Representatives after a federal jury found her guilty of fraud and other charges that involve her medical practices in southern Missouri.

State Rep. Tricia Derges, a Republican who was elected in November 2020 to represent District 140 (Christian County), sent a resignation letter to Missouri House Speaker Rob Vescovo on July 1, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

“It has truly been an honor to serve the citizens of the 140th District,” Derges, 64, wrote in the resignation letter, reported The Hill. “They are some of the finest people I have ever met. To be a part of the process that helped bring positive change to our community and to assist with many of the personal struggles of my constituents is something I will forever treasure.”

She did not mention her charges and conviction in the letter.

According to a release from the Department of Justice, Derges was found guilty on June 28 of 22 federal charges—10 counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of distributing drugs over the internet without a valid prescription, and two counts of making false statements to a federal law enforcement agent.

“This is an elected official who stole money from the public, a purported humanitarian who cheated and lied to her patients, and a medical professional who illegally distributed drugs,” U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore said in a statement.

“She violated her position of trust to selfishly enrich herself at the expense of others. But a jury of her peers, in a unanimous verdict, saw through her smokescreen of excuses and ridiculous claims, and now she will be held accountable for her criminal behavior.”

covid-19 testing A COVID-19 swab test. (Mufid Majnun/Unsplash)

Awaiting Sentencing

Derges, who is licensed as an assistant physician, operates three medical practices called “Ozark Valley Medical Clinic” in Springfield, Ozark, and Branson, as well as a non-profit corporation called “Lift Up Someone Today,” based in Springfield, which provides free medical services for people who are poor, homeless, or uninsured.

Three of the wire fraud charges involved Derges having fraudulently applied for nearly $900,000 in federal COVID-19 emergency aid that she said was for COVID-19 testing and other eligible expenses incurred by her non-profit Lift Up. However, the non-profit never provided any testing services; its medical clinic closed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and was closed from March to June 2020, the Justice Department noted.

The other seven wire fraud charges were related to Derges’s promotion of amniotic fluid treatment that authorities said she had falsely promoted as containing stem cells. The federal indictment charged Derges with defrauding four victims in the scheme from which she gained $191,815.

The 10 counts of distributing drugs over the internet without a valid prescription are related to Derges having written electronic prescriptions for Oxycodone and Adderall for people without consulting them in person—which is required by federal law—and sending the prescriptions to pharmacies over the internet.

Her two counts of making false statements involved her lying to federal agents investigating the case in May 2020, when she told the...

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