Missouri State Rep. Patricia Derges Faces New Fraud Charges
A Missouri state representative who was indicted last month on charges of marketing bogus stem cell treatments has now been charged with defrauding Greene County of hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal CARES Act money.
The superseding indictment charges that Rep. Patricia Derges, a Nixa Republican, fraudulently obtained nearly $297,000 in CARES Act funds for a nonprofit she formed as reimbursement for COVID-19 tests performed by her for-profit clinic, Ozark Valley Medical Clinic. At the time, Ozark Valley patients had already paid the clinic $517,000 for the tests, according to the indictment.
The indictment says that Derges sought a total of more than $379,000 in CARES Act money for COVID testing expenses and more than $503,000 for future funding.
Congress passed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March in response to the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new indictment adds three new counts to the 20 counts from the February indictment.
Derges, 63, pleaded not guilty to the new charges at an arraignment this morning before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge David P. Rush in Springfield.
Neither Derges nor her attorney could immediately be reached for comment.
Derges, an assistant physician, was elected in November 2020 to represent Christian County. She operates Ozark Valley Medical Clinic in three locations – Springfield, Ozark and Branson, Missouri.
In Missouri, assistant physicians are defined as medical school graduates who have not been accepted into residency programs but have passed the first two steps of the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination. They can only practice under collaborative arrangements with licensed physicians.
Derges received her medical degree from Caribbean Medical University in Curaçao in 2014.
The earlier indictment charged that Derges purchased amniotic fluid from the University of Utah that she marketed under the name Regenerative Biologics and falsely claimed contained stem cells. It said Derges received nearly $200,000 to administer stem cell shots to patients.
According to the indictment, Derges gave the shots to patients suffering from a wide range of ailments, including tissue damage, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Lyme disease, erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. She even allegedly touted it as a potential cure for COVID-19 “that is safe and natural.”
Derges is also charged with 10 counts of illegal distribution of controlled substances for prescribing Oxycodone, a narcotic, and Adderall, a treatment for ADHD, although she never met with the patients who received the medications.
Days after she was indicted in February, House Republicans removed her from the House Republican Caucus.
Derges denied the charges in the earlier indictment in a message she posted on Facebook, according to the Springfield News-Leader.
“I am here, holding my head up because that’s what you do when you have done NOTHING,” she wrote. “Never before have I seen anything like this. This is what comes after years of doing nothing but helping people. Keep prayers coming.”
Copyright 2021 KCUR 89.3