Doctor expected to challenge fitness for trial in hepatitis C case


Dr. Dipak Desai is back in Las Vegas and expected to attend a hearing today that will launch his lawyer's challenge to state medical experts who found Desai competent to stand trial in the hepatitis C outbreak.

Authorities transported Desai to the Clark County Detention Center on Friday from the state's mental hospital in Sparks, and he was released on a previously posted $1 million bail in the criminal case, defense attorney Richard Wright confirmed.

Desai has a 10 a.m. hearing scheduled before District Judge Kathleen Delaney, who will accept the findings of the Lake's Crossing experts and set a hearing date for Wright to challenge the findings.

Delaney, who oversees all competency matters in District Court, will decide what medical records stemming from Desai's evaluations in Northern Nevada to turn over to Wright.

Wright filed court papers late last month seeking "all records pertaining to the competency evaluation, observation and treatment of Desai" that are in the possession of the experts who examined his client at Lake's Crossing.

At Wright's request, Delaney ordered jail officials to release Desai upon his return.

Desai, 61, was free on $1 million bail in March when he was ordered into custody and taken to Lake's Crossing for more observation.

At the time, two court-appointed medical experts from Las Vegas had found Desai incompetent to stand trial because of the effects of two strokes.

But after six months of further evaluation at Lake's Crossing, the experts there found that he was competent to help his lawyers, concluding that he was exaggerating the physical impairments the strokes had caused.

Desai and two of his nurse anesthetists, Keith Mathahs and Ronald Lakeman, face a March 12 trial before District Judge Donald Mosley on felony charges, including racketeering, insurance fraud and neglect of patients.

The charges revolve around seven people who authorities say were infected with the potentially deadly hepatitis C virus at Desai's endoscopy clinics.

Desai also faces federal charges.

He is to be tried May 22 with Tonya Rushing, his clinic manager, on one count of conspiracy and 25 counts of health care fraud.

An indictment alleged the pair carried out a scheme from January 2005 through February 2008 to inflate the length of medical procedures and overbill health insurance companies. Desai has yet to enter a plea in the federal case.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135.

 

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