A jury trial for Missouri state Rep. Tricia Derges, R-Nixa, has been postponed 10 months.
U.S. Magistrate Judge David Rush ruled Aug. 11 that the trial scheduled for Aug. 16 would instead take place June 6, 2022, according to online court records.
Derges' counsel effectively argued that her defense team needs more time because an "essential" witness recently had a stroke and is currently unavailable to deliver testimony, according to a filing with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri's Southern Division.
"Failure to grant the continuance would deny counsel for defendant the reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence," the court filing reads. "The court finds that the ends of justice served by granting a continuance outweigh the best interest of the public and defendant in a speedy trial."
Derges, a nonprofit leader and health care clinic operator, first was indicted in February for an alleged wire fraud scheme and illegally providing prescription drugs to clients. A superseding indictment added additional charges in March, including allegations of receiving Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds through fraudulent means. Derges has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The indictment alleges Derges falsely submitted invoices for over 3,000 COVID-19 tests to support the grant request by her Springfield nonprofit, Lift Up Someone Today, according to past reporting.
Derges has not resigned from her position in the Missouri House of Representatives, despite calls from members of her own party to do so. Derges earlier this year was removed from the House Republican Caucus and stripped of committee assignments.
The jury trial extension means Derges will enter the new legislative session in 2022 under criminal indictment.
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