Second Nurse in Hepatitis C Case Enters Plea

LAS VEGAS -- Ronald Lakeman, the second nurse anesthetist charged in the hepatitis C outbreak case entered a not guilty plea in District Court Wednesday morning.

Lakeman, is one of two nurses accused, along with Dr. Dipak Desai of fraud and patient negligence. The three face numerous felony charges of infecting people with hepatitis C through sloppy medical practices including reusing vials of medication.

 Prosecutors say Desai's endoscopy clinics put profits over patient safety. They say nurses Keith Mathahs and Ronald Lakeman were Desai's partners in crime.

Lakeman would not respond to questions from 8 News NOW. Grand jury testimony from Lakeman's former colleagues at the endoscopy clinics allege the nurse was at the center of the fraud.

Lakeman is charged with claiming the clinic gave patients 31 minutes of anesthesia, when they were actually given five or six minutes. Prosecutors say Desai's  clinic defrauded insurance companies and Medicare by getting reimbursed three times as much money as they were really owed.

Grand jury transcripts also say Desai bragged to friends he was worth $150 to $200 million.

The FBI says they are dedicating more local teams to investigating health care fraud.

"We have FBI agents that are dedicated to fighting health care fraud and investigating health care fraud. It's their full time job. I can't get into the numbers, but it's one of the higher priority white collar crimes the FBI investigates," said Joe Dickey, FBI.

Some local doctors tell 8 News NOW they are working with the FBI to stop medical fraud.


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