Former Missouri state Rep. Tricia Derges was sentenced yesterday for fraud.
Derges, 65, of Nixa, was ordered to spend six years and three months in federal prison without parole, as well as pay $500,600 in restitution to victims, according to a news release from the office of Teresa Moore, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
Derges was sentenced for conducting a $900,000 COVID-19 fraud scheme through her Springfield health care nonprofit; a separate $200,000 fraud scheme for making false claims about a fake stem cell treatment at her medical clinics; and illegally providing prescription drugs to clients of those clinics.
"This disgraced former public official exploited her constituents as the community struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic by stealing public funds. She lied to her patients, to her community and to federal agents," Moore said in the release, noting the “sentence holds her accountable for her fraud and deceit.”
Derges, R-Nixa, resigned from her position in the Missouri House of Representatives last summer after she was convicted on federal fraud and drug charges, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting. Derges had operated the for-profit Ozark Valley Medical Clinic locations, as well as the nonprofit Lift Up Someone Today Inc.
In the release, federal officials said Derges was convicted of three counts of wire fraud in her attempt to fraudulently receive nearly $900,000 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds. Lift Up was awarded $296,574 in CARES Act money, even though the nonprofit did not provide COVID-19 testing services to patients and its clinics were closed at the beginning of the pandemic through June 2020.
In applying for CARES Act funds through Greene County's allocation, Derges submitted invoices purporting to be from Dynamic DNA for COVID-19 lab tests. According to the sentencing, the invoices actually were for testing done at Ozark Valley Medical Clinic, which already had received payment from clients for the tests.
Derges additionally was convicted yesterday of seven counts of wire fraud involving the marketing of a stem cell treatment that utilized amniotic fluid without any stem cells, according to Moore's office.
In violation of the Controlled Substances Act, Derges was convicted on 10 counts of distributing oxycodone and Adderall over the internet without valid prescriptions, according to the release.
Further, Derges was convicted of two counts of making false statements to federal agents who investigated her case.
Derges was represented in the case by St. Louis attorney Albert Watkins. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S Attorney Shannon Kempf and Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Eggert after being invested by the FBI, Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, the DEA and the Missouri attorney general's office, according to the release.
Plans for the Finley Ridge apartment complex in the growing community of Ozark call for four buildings, four stories apiece, with 48 units each for a total of 192, as well as a 1,500-square-foot shared community and fitness room.