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October 24, 2014

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Court to rule whether Dipak Desai competent for hepatitis trial

DA’s office reports that Lake’s Crossing doctors finished treating central hepatitis scare figure

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Steve Marcus

Dr. Dipak Desai is taken into custody by court marshals Jason Dean, left, and Ric Moon at the Regional Justice Center Thursday, March 17, 2011. Desai surrendered to authorities for treatment at the state’s Lake’s Crossing Center for the Mentally Disabled.

Desai in Custody

Dr. Dipak Desai is taken into custody by court marshals Jason Dean, left, and Ric Moon at the Regional Justice Center Thursday, March 17, 2011. Desai surrendered to authorities for treatment at the state's Lake's Crossing Center for the Mentally Disabled. His trial on 28 criminal counts related to the 2007-2008 hepatitis outbreak has been delayed for a year. Launch slideshow »

Dipak Desai, the Las Vegas physician at the center of the hepatitis scare in 2007 and 2008, could soon be ruled competent to stand trial.

Desai, who has been at Lake's Crossing Center for the Mentally Disabled in Sparks since March for evaluation and treatment, has not yet been officially ruled competent, according to Tess Driver, executive assistant at the Clark Count District Attorney’s office.

“The doctors at Lake's Crossing Center found that he meets the criteria to be considered competent. However, he will have to return to court for the Court's ruling,” Driver said.

She said because of federal HIPPA health privacy laws, the district attorney’s office can’t discuss the doctors’ reports. However, she emphasized that he has not been found competent at this time.

She said the matter is expected to be placed on the court calendar in the next couple of weeks for further proceedings.

Desai was taken into state custody on March 17 after former Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass ruled on Feb. 8 that he was incompetent and ordered that he be treated in hopes he could be returned to competency to stand trial.

While he was in Lake’s Crossing, his trial was delayed by Judge Donald Mosley until March 12, 2012.

Desai, 60, who ran the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, and two of his nurse anaesthetists, 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 outbreak.

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

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