LAS VEGAS (AP) — A prominent former Las Vegas physician and state medical board member who operated clinics where health officials say patients became infected with hepatitis C in 2007 will face all 28 felony charges filed against him almost two years ago, a state court judge decided Thursday.
Having lost a nearly two-year battle to show he is physically and mentally unfit for trial, Dipak Desai sat impassively in the courtroom while Clark County District Court Judge Valerie Adair ruled the grand jury indictment met statutory and constitutional requirements.
Adair conceded the charges could have been clearer. But she rejected defense attorney Richard Wright’s argument that the 35-page indictment returned in June 2010 was unconstitutionally vague and confusing. Trial is scheduled in October.
Prosecutors allege that Desai directed a penny-pinching scheme at his Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada and Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center that included requiring staff to use anesthesia that remained in previously opened vials and to reuse colonoscopy scopes and bite plates from patient to patient during outpatient procedures.
Southern Nevada Health District officials in February 2008 began notifying more than 50,000 Desai patients to be tested for hepatitis and HIV. Authorities later determined that nine people contracted incurable hepatitis C, and said cases involving another 105 patients might have been related.
Wright derided the charging language as “prosecution by multiple guess or mystery.” He accused prosecutors of alleging that hepatitis was transmitted “by methods unknown.”
The defense lawyer sought dismissal of 15 counts in the indictment, including a key racketeering charge and seven felony charges each of criminal patient neglect and disregard for patient safety.