Rep. Tricia Derges resigned from the Missouri House of Representatives on Friday, days after a jury found her guilty of 22 federal charges.
The Nixa Republican was convicted on counts of wire fraud, illegal distribution of controlled substances and making false statements to federal investigators in the conclusion of her trial last week. In a letter to Speaker Rob Vescovo, she resigned her seat representing Christian County.
"For many years, it has been my humble honor to have served the lord by bringing medical care to thousands of forgotten citizens in SW Missouri: the homeless, our veterans, the impoverished and uninsured," Derges wrote. "Care that helped alleviate the unspeakable pain many people lived in, helping to save lives from uncontrolled chronic diseases, healing wounds and saving limbs from amputation. The most rewarding work I have ever done."
Derges, who rose to prominence in southwest Missouri through her founding and operation of several medical clinics, was found to have fraudulently obtained federal aid money for her nonprofit clinic, lied to patients about "stem cell" treatments that did not contain stem cells and mixed money between the nonprofit, Lift Up Springfield, and her Ozark Valley Medical Clinic locations.
Her sentencing will be determined in the coming months; the jury also voted to allow the government to keep $300,000 in CARES Act money she received for her clinic's COVID-19 testing that had already been reimbursed prior.
First elected in 2020, Derges continued to push for an expansion of Missouri's assistant physician program. A licensed assistant physician herself, she wanted to allow them to become licensed, expanding the medical field and relieving labor shortages in the field.
In her resignation letter, she called the lack of access to licensing for assistant physicians a "tragedy" and urged for further legislation on the program.
"Missouri was a trailblazer with this phenomenal healthcare solution," Derges wrote. "I pray that the value of this program will one day be welcomed and appreciated. These valuable doctors are a resource that we cannot afford to lose."
Last legislative session, Derges filed a bill aiming to allow assistant physicians a path to licensing. But it went nowhere — Derges' federal indictment was unveiled in early 2021 and she was quickly stripped of much of her power in Jefferson City. She was kicked out of House Republican caucus meetings, stripped of her committee assignments, and re-assigned to a broom closet-sized office in the Capitol building. Meanwhile, other lawmakers have sought to tighten requirements to be licensed as a physician.
Her resignation means she will not be in Jefferson City for a special session focused on taxes and the veto session later this year. She will be sentenced in the coming months.
She was blocked from running for re-election as a Republican, and after being convicted cannot run for office under Missouri law. Two Republicans, Jamie Ray Gragg and Danny Garrison, and a Democrat, Amy Freeland, are running for her seat this fall.
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Rep. Tricia Derges resigns from Missouri House after conviction