A now-former Missouri state lawmaker and purported medical professional resigned from office this week after being found guilty of fraudulently accepting and using COVID-19 relief funds in a testing scheme in 2020.
A jury found GOP Rep. Tricia Derges guilty of 22 charges of fraud for applying for nearly $900,000 in CARES Act funding for a COVID-19 testing program by a nonprofit called Lift Up. However, the Department of Justice says the organization did not perform any COVID-19 testing.
The jury also found Derges guilty of further charges related to a separate scheme in which Derges illegally prescribed medications to patients and another in which she marketed a fraudulent stem cell research program.
Derges released her resignation letter this week but did not mention the fraud conviction in the letter. “It has truly been an honor to serve the citizens of the 140th District,” Derges wrote. “They are some of the finest people I have ever met. To be a part of the process that helped bring positive change to our community and to assist with many of the personal struggles of my constituents is something I will forever treasure.”
US Attorney Teresa Moore said in a statement, “This is an elected official who stole money from the public, a purported humanitarian who cheated and lied to her patients, and a medical professional who illegally distributed drugs. She violated her position of trust to selfishly enrich herself at the expense of others. But a jury of her peers, in a unanimous verdict, saw through her smokescreen of excuses and ridiculous claims, and now she will be held accountable for her criminal behavior.”
The GOP has banned Derges from running for public office in the future.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: OZARKS FIRST
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