A longtime Henderson pediatrician was charged with participating in a scheme to defraud investors and chronically ill patients through the use of experimental stem cell implant procedures.

Dr. Ralph Conti, 50, made his initial appearance Thursday in federal court, where he pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and fraud charges.

Conti had been named in a superseding indictment, which added him as a defendant in a case previously filed against Las Vegas resident Alfred Sapse, 85.

Sapse was arrested on fraud charges in July 2010 after federal authorities accused him of duping patients and investors with claims that he was a retired physician who had developed a novel medical procedure involving stem cells.

The indictment alleges Sapse received about $1 million from patients and investors.

A trial for both Sapse and Conti is set for March 12.


Thou shalt not steal

Priest Kevin McAuliffe embezzled $650,000 from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Roman Catholic Church in Summerlin to feed his gambling addiction, his lawyer said.

Attorney Margaret Stanish said her client is undergoing treatment for a gambling addiction.

McAuliffe pleaded guilty on Oct. 7. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 6.


Desai back in court

Dr. Dipak Desai made his first court appearance since state medical experts found him competent to stand trial in the hepatitis C outbreak.

Desai’s behavior, now routine at all of his court appearances, remained unchanged at the district court hearing: He was guided into the courtroom by his wife and defense attorneys; he sat at the defendant’s table; he stared straight ahead and either ignored or appeared to be oblivious to the legal arguments in his case.

He would appear in a different court two days later to plead not guilty to federal charges related to the outbreak.


More Damages

For the second time in three days, a Las Vegas jury levied a multimillion-dollar verdict against drug companies linked to the hepatitis C outbreak.

The jury ordered Teva Parenteral Medicines Inc. and Baxter Healthcare Corp. to pay $90 million in punitive damages to Michael Washington and his wife, Josephine, who sued on product liability claims.

After the four-week trial, the same jury on Monday awarded the Washingtons $14 million in compensatory damages. That verdict came within minutes of a $162.5 million punitive damage award in another outbreak-related case.


Lees bolster UNLV

UNLV will hire 10 new professors, rename its business college, fund a lecture series and provide scholarships as high as $15,000, thanks to one of the largest donations in the university’s history.

Ted Lee, 78, and his wife, Doris Lee, 92, local real estate developers and casino owners, donated $15 million to UNLV to bolster the business college, which is being renamed the Lee Business School.


SNWA rests at hearing

The Southern Nevada Water Authority wrapped up its case in a state hearing that could decide the fate of a multibillion-dollar plan to pipe groundwater to Las Vegas from across eastern Nevada.

The hearing on whether the authority should be allowed to tap four rural valleys began Sept. 26 and is expected to last through Nov. 18.

Testimony is set to resume Oct. 31, when opponents of the project begin their case.

State Engineer Jason King is expected to rule on the authority’s groundwater applications in late March.

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