JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Embattled Rep. Tricia Derges, who is facing federal charges related to an alleged stem cell treatment scheme, was removed from the House Republican Caucus Monday.
She has already been stripped of her committee assignments and asked to resign by Speaker Rob Vescovo. In the latest move to limit Derges’ involvement in the legislature, members “overwhelmingly” voted to remove her from the caucus, a source said.
“Our leadership team and the members of our caucus strongly believe Rep. Derges should resign her seat to focus on her family and her legal issues,” Vescovo, Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher, and Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann said in a joint statement.
“The vote taken today in caucus is reflective of the incredibly serious nature of the federal charges filed against her and the fact these issues compromise her ability to serve her constituents effectively,” the lawmakers said. “We hope Tricia will make the right decision for herself, her family, and the good people of the 140th district.”
Last week, an attorney representing Derges said she had no plans to resign at this time.
“I would hope that our lawmakers would hold true to that fundamental American principle of innocence until and IF proven guilty,” Stacie Bilyeu said.
Derges, 63, was charged with 20 counts ranging from wire fraud to making false statements to federal agents. Derges is licensed as an assistant physician — not a physician — and operates Ozark Valley Medical clinics in Branson, Ozark, and Springfield. She was first elected to serve as a Republican state representative for HD 140 in 2020.
The indictment alleged Derges wrote electronic prescriptions for oxycodone and Adderall and transmitted the drugs over the internet without having conducted in-person medical evaluations.
Derges also allegedly obtained amniotic fluid and falsely claimed it contained “mesenchymal stem cells” during a seminar and in personal consultations. The amniotic fluid did not, however, contain any stem cells. Derges allegedly administered the amniotic fluid to patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), kidney disease, and tissue damage, among other ailments.
The indictment said Derges charged patients more than $191,000 in all for the amniotic fluid.
Additionally, Derges faces two charges of making false statements to federal agents during the investigation in May 2020 regarding the use of the amniotic fluid and whether it included stem cells.
She pleaded not guilty and was released on bond. In multiple Facebook posts, Derges maintained her innocence.
“While Rep. Derges should be afforded the presumption of innocence, she also owes a duty of representation to her constituency which she cannot adequately fulfill under the circumstances,” GOP Rep. Phil Christofanelli said on Twitter. “The honorable course would be for her to resign.”
Republican Rep. Rick Roeber was also barred from the House Republican Caucus before the legislative session began. Roeber has been accused of physically and sexually abusing his children years ago.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.