Missouri lawmaker accused of fraud should resign, house speaker says

Diana J. Smith

A newly-inaugurated Missouri lawmaker who was indicted Monday on medical fraud charges should resign, House Speaker Rob Vescovo said Wednesday.

In a statement, Vescovo said he made the request after speaking with Rep. Patricia Derges, a Republican from Nixa, and with House Republicans.

Derges is accused of promoting her southwest Missouri medical clinics as a provider of regenerative stem cell treatments for COVID-19 and other illnesses. But instead patients received amniotic fluid with no cells at all — and Derges collected more than $191,000 in payments, prosecutors allege.

She turned herself in Monday after being charged with 20 federal counts including wire fraud, distributing drugs over the Internet without valid prescriptions and making false statements to federal agents.

“The legal process will ultimately determine her guilt or innocence, but this is clearly a time for her to spend with her family as she focuses on her legal issues, and for the people of the 140th district to move forward with selecting a replacement who can effectively advocate for their interests,” Vescovo said.

The assistant physician has experienced a swift fall from grace since the indictment was unsealed Monday afternoon. On Tuesday, Vescovo removed Derges from her committee assignments.

When asked whether Derges will resign, her attorney Stacie Bilyue said only, “I can tell you that she has no plans to announce that at this time.”

Derges has not commented on her charges. In Facebook posts prior to the indictment being unsealed, she likened her situation to David fighting Goliath and an “unfair persecution” against her.

She won her seat unopposed in November after winning a four-way Republican primary. Alongside her predecessor, Rep. Lynn Morris, she advocated for the creation of Missouri’s assistant physician license, allowing medical school graduates like herself who did not get placed into residencies to treat patients.

Federal prosecutors began investigating Derges last April, early in the Covid-19 pandemic, after she made a local television appearance claiming a certain kind of stem cells could potentially be used to treat the deadly virus.

Related stories from Kansas City Star

Next Post

4 Counseling Psychology Career Paths to Explore

Are you considering becoming a licensed mental health counselor? Entering the field of mental health gives you the opportunity to pursue a fulfilling career where you can make a real difference in the lives of patients, all while earning a competitive salary and enjoying significant job stability.  But the career […]