A Missouri Republican was indicted on fraud and other charges after she allegedly sold bogus treatments for COVID-19.
State Rep. Tricia Derges (R-Nixa), who is also a licensed physician assistant, was accused of selling "stem cell shots" that did not, in fact, contain any stem cells but were instead just amniotic fluid she'd bought from the University of Utah, reported Ozarks First.
"This defendant abused her privileged position to enrich herself through deception," U.S. Attorney Tim Garrison said in a statement. "The indictment alleges she lied to her patients and she lied to federal agents. As an elected official and a health care provider, she deserves to be held to a high standard. This grand jury indictment exposes her deception and holds her accountable for her actions."
The 63-year-old Derges made $191,815 from selling the fluid as a "safe and natural" coronavirus treatment, which she advertised on Facebook under the name Regenerative Biologics, and authorities said she was aware the amniotic fluid did not contain stem cells as advertised.
The lawmaker has been charged with 20 federal counts, including 10 counts of distributing drugs online without a prescription, eight counts of wire fraud and two counts of making false statements to federal agents.
Justice Department investigators learned about the scheme after Derges appeared in April on local TV in southern Missouri to promote her therapies, and she compared herself to David pitted against the Goliath of the government after pleading not guilty in federal court.
"God stood with David, I have the faith that He will stand with me against the Goliath that I face today - his sole purpose is to destroy," Derges wrote on her Facebook page. "Please believe in me and please keep praying for me."