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July 22, 2014

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Lawyers to challenge competency finding for doctor in hepatitis scare

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Steve Marcus

Richard Wright, center, attorney for Dr. Dipak Desai, speaks to District Court Judge Kathleen Delaney at the Regional Justice Center Tuesday, November 15, 2011. At left is attorney Margaret Stanish. Michael Staudaher, chief deputy district attorney is at right. Judge Delaney set a Jan. 27 hearing date for the defense to challenge a competency finding.

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Dr. Dipak Desai leaves court after a competency proceeding Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011.

Desai Status Check

Richard Wright, attorney for Dr. Dipak Desai, speaks to District Court Judge Kathleen Delaney at the Regional Justice Center Tuesday, November 15, 2011. At left is attorney Margaret Stanish. Judge Delaney set a Jan. 27 hearing date for the defense to challenge a competency finding. Launch slideshow »

A hearing has been set for January for defense attorneys for Dipak Desai, the Las Vegas doctor at the center of the hepatitis scare in 2007 and 2008, to challenge state medical experts’ findings that Desai is competent to stand trial.

Desai was initially found not competent for trial and sent to the state’s Lake’s Crossing Center for the Mentally Disabled in Sparks in March. He was released in September, with the indication that those who evaluated him had ruled him competent.

Desai’s attorneys have challenged that finding and recently received 1,200 pages of medical documents to have examined by their own experts.

On Tuesday, District Court Judge Kathleen Delaney set a hearing for Jan. 27 at 9 a.m. to allow the defense to argue the competency finding.

Desai, who is now out of custody on $1 million bail, was not present at Tuesday’s hearing.

His attorneys have said in the past he has suffered two strokes, the most recent after the hepatitis C outbreak, and suffers from other medical ailments that do not allow him to participate in his own defense.

Desai, 61, who ran the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, and two of his nurse anesthetists, Keith H. Mathahs and Ronald E. Lakeman, were indicted by a grand jury last year on 28 criminal counts related to the 2007-2008 hepatitis scare.

The felony charges include 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.

Desai is scheduled to go to trial before Judge Donald Mosley in Clark County District Court on March 12.

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