Federal prosecutors announced Friday that a grand jury returned a superseding indictment this week alleging that Rep. Tricia Derges, a Republican from Nixa, filed claims for nearly $900,000 in federal funding for COVID-19 treatments that were not performed or had already been paid.
The 20-count indictment filed in February alleged Derges falsely promoted a treatment she was selling at medical clinics as containing stem cells that could treat various diseases, including COVID-19.
Derges’ attorney, Al Watkins, said the indictments indicate that federal prosecutors are not doing proper due diligence or performing at their normally high standards of professionalism in this case, which is harming tens of thousands of Derges’ patients in southwest Missouri.
“She has no plans to do anything but continue to diligently discharge her duties as an elected official and represent her constituents,” Watkins said. “And she has no plans to stop her professional calling, which is deeply rooted in her faith.”
House Democratic Minority Leader Crystal Quade said the latest charges against Derges call into question her fitness to serve
“But more immediately, it raises deep concerns about whether she should be casting votes that will determine how Missouri allocates its share of those relief funds,” Quade said in a statement. “Given the situation, it would be appropriate for her to recuse herself from voting when the House debates the state budget next week.”
In the earlier indictment, prosecutors alleged Derges administered amniotic fluid, which she falsely claimed contained stem cells, to patients who suffered from various diseases, including erectile dysfunction, Lyme disease and urinary incontinence.
Prosecutors claimed Derges said in a Facebook post that the treatment could provide a potential “safe and natural” cure for COVID-19 patients.