The federal criminal trial of Dr. Dipak Desai has been delayed, as expected, for at least six months.
U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro late Friday set a May 7 trial date for Desai, 62, and his former clinic manager, Tonya Rushing, 44, who face conspiracy and health care fraud charges stemming from the 2007 hepatitis C outbreak.
The federal case, which was to start Nov. 20, will follow the criminal trial of Desai and two nurse anesthetists in Clark County District Court.
Desai, 62, and the two nurses, Keith Mathahs, 76, and Ronald Lakeman, 65, face a series of felony charges including racketeering, patient neglect and insurance fraud. They also face a second-degree murder charge in the death of Rodolfo Meana, a victim of the hepatitis outbreak.
The state trial, which is to start April 22, could last as long as two months, which means the federal trial probably will be delayed again.
Some of the federal charges mirror the charges in the state case.
In a stipulation filed Friday, prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed that “given the commonality of facts,” it was “appropriate” for the federal case to trail the state case. Prosecutors previously indicated they preferred to try Desai after the state case.
In all, Desai and Rushing are facing one count of conspiracy and 25 counts of health care fraud in the federal case.
Rushing is a prosecution witness against Desai in the state case and likely to testify against the once politically connected gastroenterologist, who has given up his medical license.
The federal indictment alleges the pair carried out a scheme from January 2005 through February 2008 to inflate the length of medical procedures and overbill health insurance companies for anesthesia.
The insurers included Medicare, Medicaid and private entities such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield, United Healthcare and the Culinary and Teamsters union health funds.
At two of Desai’s clinics, the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada and the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center, nurse anesthetists were instructed to falsify anesthesia times for endoscopies and colonoscopies, the indictment alleges.
Last month, District Judge Valerie Adair reluctantly delayed the state case after defense lawyers said they weren’t prepared for trial. The state case has dragged through the court system for more than two years.
In 2008, health officials genetically linked the hepatitis infections of seven people to the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada. Officials have said dozens more cases were “possibly linked” to the clinic.
Health officials concluded six patients contracted hepatitis C through unsafe injection practices on Sept. 21, 2007. Another patient was infected on July 25, 2007.