Larry French/Getty Patricia Derges
A Missouri state representative was indicted after she allegedly falsely claimed a treatment she was marketing contained stem cells that could treat COVID-19 and other diseases.
Patricia Derges, a Republican from Nixa, Missouri, was charged with eight counts of wire fraud, 10 counts of distributing Oxycodone and Adderall over the internet and two counts of making false statements to federal agents.
The 20-count indictment, unsealed Monday, alleged that 63-year-old Derges administered amniotic fluid to patients at three clinics in southern Missouri. She allegedly falsely claimed the fluid contained stem cells.
One of the clinics, Ozark Valley Medical Clinics, she touted as being "the leader in pain and regenerative medicine."
Prosecutors allege that Derges administered the fluid to patients suffering from tissue damage, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Lyme disease, erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.
She allegedly advertised her treatment during seminars, media interviews, social media and during consultations.
Prosecutors allege that Derges wrote on Facebook in April that "this amazing treatment stands to provide a potential cure for COVID-19 patients that is safe and natural," according to the indictment.
"This defendant abused her privileged position to enrich herself through deception," said U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison. "The indictment alleges she lied to her patients and she lied to federal agents. As an elected official and a health care provider, she deserves to be held to a high standard. This grand jury indictment exposes her deception and holds her accountable for her actions."
The investigation was triggered after Derges allegedly made "false or misleading statements" in April 2020 to a Springfield television station "regarding her potential use of stem cells to treat COVID-19," according to the indictment.
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Derges, who is licensed as an assistant physician, is also accused of illegally writing prescriptions for Oxycodone and Adderall to patients without conducting in-person medical evaluations and lying to federal agents.
Derges has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
"She is presumed innocent of all of these charges," says her defense attorney, Stacie Calhoun Bilyeu. "She was indicted by a grand jury. It is one-sided by design. We don't even have a right to know what is going on. There is no cross examination. Because the defendant doesn't have a right to be there, then we are not able to present our own witnesses, we aren't able to cross examine their witnesses."