A Republican state representative from Missouri has resigned following her conviction on 22 federal charges mostly linked to a $900,000 COVID-19 fraud scheme operated in clinics and a non-profit early in the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
Rep. Tricia Derges resigned last week from her position in Christian County (District 140) in the Missouri House.
Four days earlier, Derges was convicted by a federal jury for what prosecutors say is a nearly $900,000 COVID-19 scheme. A separate $200,000 fraud scheme in which she made many false claims about stem cell treatments to her clinics also factored in the charges.
According to the DOJ, Derges, 64, was found guilty of 10 counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of distributing drugs over the internet without a valid prescription, and two counts of making false statements to a federal law enforcement agent.
U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore issued the following statement on Derges:
“This is an elected official who stole money from the public, a purported humanitarian who cheated and lied to her patients, and a medical professional who illegally distributed drugs. She violated her position of trust to selfishly enrich herself at the expense of others. But a jury of her peers, in a unanimous verdict, saw through her smokescreen of excuses and ridiculous claims, and now she will be held accountable for her criminal behavior.”
The DOJ stressed the fact that Derges “is not a physician but is licensed as an assistant physician,” despite her biography with the Missouri House of Representatives claiming that she is “a medical doctor and entrepreneur.”
Derges manages multiple for-profit Ozark Valley Medical Clinic locations across the state of Missouri, and the non-profit corporation Lift Up Someone Today, Inc. The official Missouri House of Representatives biography of Derges claims that the non-profit is a “medical-dental-mental health mission clinic that provides care for the homeless, poor and veterans,” and that she “teaches medical students board review classes for their USMLE licensing exams.”
Prosecutors say that Derges attempted to receive $900,000 in CARES Act funds and was awarded almost $300,000 in CARES Act funds for Lift Up, even though they did not provide any COVID-19 testing services and even closed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic until June of 2020.
Prosecutors argued that Derges submitted invoices for COVID related tests and supplies as Lift Up expenditures, but they were actually used for testing done at the for-profit Ozark Valley Medical Clinic, even though Ozark Valley Medical Center had already received over half a million dollars for COVID tests.
She also marketed a stem cell treatment that didn’t contain any stem cells, but instead utilized amniotic fluid, as a treatment for COVID-19.
In an April 11, 2020 Facebook post, Derges said of amniotic fluid allograft “This amazing treatment stands to provide a potential cure for COVID-19 patients that is safe and natural.”