Opening statements begin at Desai criminal trial - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Opening statements begin at Desai criminal trial

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Dipak Desai sat motionless during the prosecutor's nearly two-hour opening statement Monday Dipak Desai sat motionless during the prosecutor's nearly two-hour opening statement Monday
Chief Deputy D.A. Michael Staudaher addressed the jury Monday afternoon Chief Deputy D.A. Michael Staudaher addressed the jury Monday afternoon
Desai (left) and Ronald Lakeman (right) face several charges, including 2nd degree murder and neglect Desai (left) and Ronald Lakeman (right) face several charges, including 2nd degree murder and neglect
LAS VEGAS (FOX5/AP) -

Opening statements began Monday for the criminal trial for a Las Vegas doctor accused of practices that led to the largest hepatitis C outbreak in the nation's history.

Dr. Dipak Desai faces charges of murder, neglect, racketeering and insurance fraud in connection with the infections of more than 100 patients in 2007 and 2008 at Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada.

"The patients were shortchanged, their care was compromised, and they were harmed, and ultimately one died as a result of what happened in the clinic," Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Staudaher told the court.

Desai sat in the court room, and stared straight ahead during the roughly two hour opening remarks.

Desai is accused of reusing needles and vials, which led to the infections. One exhibit shown to the court was a count of 11,844 bottles that were used for a total 23,576 patients.

Rodolfo Meana, 77, died as a result of the disease. Officials said his case was genetically linked to Desai's practice.

"When I talk to you about the complete laser-like focus on costs, and saving money, and cutting corners, Desai was the king," Staudaher said.

The attorneys for Desai and co-defendant Ronald Lakeman were offered a chance to begin their opening statements Monday afternoon, but opted to start Tuesday morning. Lakeman was an anesthetist at the clinic.

Last month, a judge set the date for Desai's criminal trial after delays that questioned his competency to stand trial. A judge ruled that Desai's health, which included reported small strokes earlier this year, would not hinder the doctor's ability to stand trial.

In early April, a jury found Health Plan of Nevada liable in a civil trial connected to the outbreak. A Las Vegas jury awarded the plaintiffs in the case $500 million in punitive damages and $24 million in compensatory damages.

It was not immediately clear how long Desai's trial is expected to last.

Desai's federal trial delayed until August

On the same day opening arguments for his trial on state charges began, the federal trial for Desai was delayed until  Aug. 20.

Court records show that U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro agreed last week to postpone the trial for Desai and Tonya Rushing from May 7 to Aug. 20.

In federal court, Desai and Rushing have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and healthcare fraud charges stemming from the hepatitis C outbreak.

The federal grand jury accused them of overbilling for anesthesia and medical procedures at the Endoscopy Center of Nevada, Gastroenterology Center of Nevada and Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center in Las Vegas.

Copyright 2013 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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