Manager of Desai clinic pleaded guilty in fraud case

LAS VEGAS -- The manager of a clinic owned by a doctor convicted in a hepatitis C outbreak pleaded guilty in a federal health care fraud case.

Tonya Rushing, 46, pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The plea is part of an agreement with federal prosecutors.

Rushing was charged along side her former boss Dr. Dipak Desai for overbilling insurance companies for medical procedures between 2005 and 2008. Desai was convicted in state court last year in connection with the 2007 outbreak of hepatitis C tied to his Las Vegas endoscopy centers.

As part of the plea deal, Rushing agreed to pay $50,000 in restitution and participate in the forfeiture of $8.1 million in cash and property.

U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks, who accepted the guilty plea, set sentencing for Sept. 25 and permitted Rushing to remain free until then. She could get a maximum of five years in prison. 

Desai has yet to go trial on the federal fraud charges. Rushing testified against him in the state's case tied to the spread of hepatitis C to former Desai patients.

Rushing attorney Robert Draskovich emphasized after the plea hearing that she wasn't involved in the medical practices at Desai's clinics, including the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, which were linked to the hepatitis outbreak.

"Under the circumstances we're very satisfied with the plea agreement," Draskovich said. "Ms. Rushing is looking forward to putting this matter behind her."


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