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December 20, 2014

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Dipak Desai posts $1 million bail in hepatitis C case

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Dipak Desai

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The man who is the key defendant in the hepatitis scare that shook Las Vegas two years ago was able to post bail Monday to stay out of jail.

Dr. Dipak Desai, whose Las Vegas Valley endoscopy clinics have been linked to at least nine hepatitis C cases, posted a cashier's check for his $1 million bail late this afternoon with the Clark County District Court Clerk's office.

Desai, who had been under house arrest until posting bail, will be arraigned at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Clark County District Court before Judge Donald Mosley.

Last week, a Clark County grand jury indicted Desai and two employees, Ronald Ernest Lakeman and Keith H. Mathahs, on 28 felony counts. The indictment included charges of racketeering, performance of an act in reckless disregard of persons or property, criminal neglect of patients, insurance fraud, theft and obtaining money under false pretenses.

Bail was set last week at $500,000 each for Lakeman and Mathahs. As of late Monday, neither of them had presented themselves to authorities.

Desai's attorney, Richard Wright, told Judge Elissa Cadish that Desai and his businesses are in bankruptcy proceedings so he would need time to raise his bail. Desai has been on house arrest since Friday. The judge gave him until 5 p.m. Monday to raise bail or be taken to the Clark County Detention Center. A court officer said his bail was posted about 4 p.m. Monday.

Besides the nine hepatitis cases linked to Desai's clinic, the Health District said more than 100 other patients were infected. The outbreak prompted health officials to recommend testing for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV to about 50,000 patients. The Southern Nevada Health District said patients might have been infected when nurses and other staff members reused syringes on endoscopy patients.

The Health District also notified all patients who had undergone procedures at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada between March 2004 and January 2008 that they were at risk for possible exposure.

Desai, who faces several medical malpractice suites from patients who say they contracted hepatitis C at his Las Vegas clinics, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In February, he surrendered his state medical license after having a series of health problems, including several strokes. He had practiced medicine since 1980

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