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Missouri lawmaker’s narcotics license placed on probation

February 15, 2022 GMT

A Missouri lawmaker who is charged in a fraud scheme involving medical treatments in her job as an assistant physician reached a settlement with the state health department that puts her narcotics license on probation for three years.

The agreement with state Rep. Tricia Derges, first reported Monday by the Missouri Independent, was reached Jan. 28 but not announced. Her attorney, Al Watkins, provided The Associated Press with a copy of the deal with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Derges is a first-term Republican from Nixa. She also operates Life Up, a nonprofit medical and dental clinic in Springfield that serves poor, homeless and uninsured people.

The settlement does not address many of the charges cited in a 23-count criminal case against Derges. She has pleaded not guilty in the federal case.

Instead, it states that an investigation “revealed violations of state and federal controlled substance laws,” such as illegally prescribing amphetamines and opioids. The agreement says Derges committed the crimes because those laws were not taught at the Caribbean Medical University in the Netherland Antilles, where she was trained.

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“Once she learned of the violations, she took prompt corrective measures,” the agreement says.

“We’re not talking about a criminal here,” Watkins said. “This is a woman who set up her own clinics to take care of people who couldn’t take care otherwise. She wasn’t getting state money or federal money, wasn’t charging these people. It’s just sad.”

She still faces allegations in the federal indictment filed last year that accused her of filing claims for nearly $900,000 in federal funding for COVID-19 treatments that were not performed or had already been performed. It also alleged that she promoted amniotic fluid as a treatment for COVID-19 and other diseases by falsely claiming it contained stem cells.

Derges refused to resign despite calls from House Republican leaders, who removed her from the GOP caucus and from committee posts.

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This story was first published on Feb. 14. It was updated on Feb. 15 to correct that Derges is an assistant physician, not a physician assistant.