The House Republican Caucus voted Monday to eject a freshman lawmaker indicted Feb. 1 on 20 federal charges of medical fraud and improperly prescribing narcotics and amphetamines.
The caucus wants state Rep. Tricia Derges, R-Nixa, to resign her seat, the House GOP leadership said in a joint statement from Speaker Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold, Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann, R-St. Charles, and Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher, R-St. Louis.
The action Monday booting Derges from the caucus is the third step in the House GOP response to the charges. In the hours after her indictment, Vescovo stripped her of her committee assignments. On Wednesday, he followed that action with a call for Derges, elected without opposition in November, to resign her seat.
In emails to Vescovo, obtained by The Independent under a Sunshine Law request, Derges has insisted that she is innocent of the charges and she does not intend to resign.
“Removing me without knowing the truth only makes me look guilty, which I am not,” Derges wrote after Vescovo took her off three committees.
After he sent her an email asking her to resign, Derges responded that she would not quit.
“I can only ask for your understanding and support as I continue to work hard and effectively for my district and just as important supporting my right of being innocent until proven guilty,” she wrote.
If Derges remains in office, barring action to expel her, the harshest action her fellow Republicans can take is to refuse to meet with her.
“The vote taken today in caucus is reflective of the incredibly serious nature of the federal charges filed against her and the fact these issues compromise her ability to serve her constituents effectively,” the statement from Vescovo, Wiemann and Plocher said.
Derges has not taken part in any House roll call votes since her indictments, including Monday’s vote on the House Journal.
Derges was charged last week with eight counts of medical fraud for allegedly using sterile amniotic fluid in what she told patients were stem cell treatments. The indictment lists eight instances of patients who had paid Derges from $1,905 to $6,500 for treatments and reaping $191,815 in total for such treatments.
She is also charged with 12 counts of improperly authorizing prescriptions of oxycodone and adderall for patients she did not personally examine. Two counts charge her with lying to FBI agents during the investigation.
She is currently scheduled to go to trial on May 3.
Derges is licensed as an assistant physician and operates for-profit clinics in Springfield, Ozark and Branson as well as not-for-profit clinics in those cities.