SPRINGFIELD, Mon. (KY3) – A southwest Missouri lawmaker now faces more federal allegations in a fraud program. The new indictment against Patricia “Tricia” Derges, 63, of Nixa, follows her indictment of a separate fraud program
KY3 first reported on the charges against Derges in February. The U.S. law firm says Degres lied about stem cell treatments at her health clinic and illegally provided prescription drugs.
Derges faces a 23-count indictment returned under seal by a federal grand jury in Springfield, Missouri on Tuesday, March 23. The replacement indictment replaces the original indictment returned February 1 and includes three new counts of COVID-19 fraud in addition to the original charges.
The substitute charge was overturned when Derges appeared in federal court on her charges.
Derges’ nonprofit Lift Up received nearly $ 300,000 in CARES Act funding for COVID-19 testing. Investigators say the tests have already been paid for by customers at Derges’ non-profit clinics.
The U.S. law firm says that when the pandemic began in March 2020 through June 2020, Lift Up closed its doors and did not provide any patient with COVID-19 tests.
Derges’ defense attorney, Albert Watkins, says because Lift Up was closed, Derges let patients get their free health care at their nonprofit clinic.
“The 501c3 couldn’t have volunteers during the pandemic,” says Watkins. “You weren’t insured for it. They didn’t have the resources for it and the volunteers weren’t all ready to volunteer. “
According to investigators, Derges applied for more than $ 880,000 in CARES funding for lift up for coronavirus testing. Derges submitted test invoices with her application, in which she claimed they came from Lift Up. However, U.S. prosecutors say they are actually from their nonprofit Ozark Valley Medical Clinic.
According to Watkins, Derges was transparent from the start.
“There is a written dialogue between my client and the commission confirming the collaboration that my client has made, at great personal expense, by the non-profit organization serving the needs of the poor and limited liability society paid employees” says Watkins.
Investigators say these tests have already been paid for by the patients in the clinic. According to Watkins, these new fees will affect not only its customers, but Lift Up employees as well.
“Tens of thousands of southwest Missouri residents who otherwise could not have received health care,” said Watkins.
Crystal Quade, Chairman of the Minority House of Representatives, today released this statement on Derges:
“Given the allegations of securing fraudulent federal coronavirus funds under recent criminal charges against Republican MP Tricia Derges, this calls into question her eligibility for lawmakers. But it immediately raises grave concerns as to whether it should cast votes that will determine how Missouri will distribute its share of that aid. Given the situation, it would be appropriate for her to withdraw from the vote when the House debates the state budget next week. “
Watkins says Derges is determined to be a legislator.
“She has no intentions, no plans, and will not resign, resign or entertain anything other than doing what is necessary to continue her duty to her constituents,” said Watkins.
KY3 has reached out to the Greene County Commissioners Office regarding this new charge and has been advised that the office will not comment on any pending legal matters.
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