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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

NEVADA: Aide Takes Plea in Vegas Hepatitis Exposure Case (San Francisco) (12.11.12)

On December 10, Keith H. Mathahs, formerly an aide at a Las Vegas outpatient clinic, pleaded guilty to felony neglect and other charges and agreed to testify against the former clinic owner. Authorities claim that patients were infected with hepatitis C at the clinic in 2007. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Mathahs could get probation or be sentenced to 28 months to six years in state prison, a prosecutor and his lawyer stated. Mathahs pleaded guilty to insurance fraud, obtaining money under false pretenses, criminal neglect of patients, criminal neglect of patients resulting in death, and conspiracy to commit racketeering. Valerie Adair, Clark County District Court Judge, delayed sentencing until the completion of the trial of Dr. Dipak Desai and Ronald Ernest Lakeman, a nurse anesthetist at the clinic. A former patient died early in 2012 in the Philippines, and a second-degree murder charge was added against Desai, Mathahs, and Lakeman. All three defendants pleaded not guilty and remained free pending trial. Judge Adair dismissed the murder charge against Mathahs on December 10. Desai and Lakeman will stand trial in April on 28 criminal charges; if convicted, they could be sentenced to prison for the rest of their lives. Prosecutors allege that Desai oversaw a penny-pinching plan in which the staff of the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center and the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada used left-over anesthesia in previously opened vials and reused colonoscopy scopes and bite plates from patient to patient. In February of 2008, Southern Nevada Health District officials contacted more than 50,000 Desai patients to be tested for HIV and hepatitis. Nine people contracted incurable hepatitis C, and cases involving 105 more patients may have been related, authorities determined later. Prosecutor Michael Staudaher and Richard Wright, Desai's lawyer, declined to comment on Mathahs’s plea deal.


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