Lawyer for Rep. Tricia Derges rejects plea deal, maintains innocence in COVID-19 fraud case
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The lawyer for State Representative Tricia Derges says they are not accepting any plea deals because she is innocent.
Rep. Derges, of Nixa, appeared before a federal judge on Wednesday. She faces a 23-count superseding indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield on March 23. It includes three new counts of COVID-19 fraud, in addition to the original charges.
The US Attorneys office says Derges lied about stem cell treatments at her healthcare clinic and illegally provided prescription drugs. Investigators say she falsely claimed a treatment she sold contained stem cells that could help with COVID-19 and other illnesses. She is also accused of distributing oxycodone and Adderall over the internet without a valid prescription.
The US Attorney’s Office proposed four plea offers. Derges rejected all of them. As part of those offers, prosecutors would have dropped all but two of the wire fraud charges against her, she would have had to pay restitution to her patients, surrender her assistant physician license, and face a sentence according to federal sentencing guidelines.
Derges’ attorney, Albert Watkins of St Louis, says they did not accept the plea offers because she entered a plea of not guilty for a reason. He says her treatment with amniotic fluid is cutting edge and the subject of a lot of research, something that will be addressed at trial.
“It’ll be showtime,” said Watkins Wednesday. “And the fact of the matter is, they’re going to be big words used, there will be lots of evidence, there will be lots of paperwork. And like every trial, boils down to to simple basic truths.”
A judge scheduled a jury trial for August 16. Attorneys expect it to last two weeks.
Fellow lawmakers asked Derges asked to resign, but in an email to the Missouri house speaker earlier this year, she said her “innocence will prevail.”
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