JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — After speaking with Rep. Tricia Derges and the caucus, House Speaker Rob Vescovo called on her to resign Wednesday afternoon. But Derges “has no plans to announce her resignation at this time,” her attorney told The Missouri Times in response.
Derges was indicted by a federal grand jury earlier this week for an alleged stem cell treatment scheme, among other things. Vescovo had already removed Derges from her committee assignments earlier this week.
“The legal process will ultimately determine her guilt or innocence, but this is clearly a time for her to spend with her family as she focuses on her legal issues, and for the people of the 140th district to move forward with selecting a replacement who can effectively advocate for their interests,” Vescovo said.
Stacie Bilyeu, the embattled representative’s Springfield attorney, wouldn’t say if Derges plans to be in the Capitol for legislative duties next week; she’s been marked absent with leave in the House Journals this week.
“I would hope that our lawmakers would hold true to that fundamental American principle of innocence until and IF proven guilty,” Bilyeu told The Missouri Times in a text message Thursday morning.
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, unsealed Monday, 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 Monday. 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.”
This story has been updated. It was originally published on Feb. 3.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn was the editor in chief of The Missouri Times from 2020-2022. 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.