A southwest Missouri lawmaker indicted on charges of medical fraud and improperly prescribing narcotics should resign her seat, House Speaker Rob Vescovo said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.
Vescovo, R-Arnold, stripped state Rep. Tricia Derges, R-Nixa, of her committee assignments on Monday afternoon, just a few hours after she was named in a 20-count federal indictment. In his statement Wednesday, Vescovo said he had spoken to Derges and the House Republican Caucus about the situation and came to the conclusion that she should resign.
Derges is serving her first term in the House. She has not taken part in any floor votes this week.
“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.
Derges, who is licensed as an assistant physician, was charged Monday with 20 federal felony counts. The indictment includes eight counts alleging she sold fake stem cell treatments, netting almost $200,000 from patients she injected with sterile amniotic fluid. The indictment also includes 10 counts alleging she improperly authorized prescriptions of oxycodone and adderall for patients she had not seen and two counts of lying to FBI agents.
U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison said at a news conference that the investigation of Derges began after she claimed in a television interview that she was beginning an FDA-approved trial of stem cell treatments for COVID-19.
The indictment involves patients at Derges’ Ozark Valley Medical Clinic, a for-profit medical practice with offices in Springfield, Ozark and Branson.
Derges could not be reached Wednesday afternoon.