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July 30, 2015

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Indictment charges Las Vegas doctor, nurses with murder in hepatitis C death

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Steve Marcus

Dr. Dipak Desai, the majority owner of the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, leaves a hearing at Las Vegas City Hall on March 3, 2008.

Dipak Desai, the Las Vegas doctor at the center of the 2007-2008 hepatitis scare, and two of his nurses have been charged with second-degree murder.

The charges come after the death of Rodolfo Meana, one of the patients who contracted the hepatitis C virus at Desai’s clinic, according to an indictment released Friday by the Clark County District Attorney’s Office.

Desai and nurses Ronald Lakeman and Keith Mathahs each were charged with a single count of second-degree murder for their criminal neglect and reckless disregard for patients, resulting in Meana’s infection and ultimately his death, the indictment said.

Meana, 77, died in April due to complications believed to stem from his hepatitis C infection.

Thousands of people were potentially exposed to the hepatitis C virus through Desai’s former clinic, The Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada, and its sister clinics. Desai and the nurses are accused of spreading the virus through unhygienic practices, including the use of vials of anesthetic that had been contaminated with the blood of hepatitis C-positive patients through the reuse of syringes.

Desai, Lakeman and Mathahs previously were indicted on a litany of felony charges stemming from the outbreak, including racketeering, criminal neglect of patients resulting in substantial bodily harm, and reckless endangerment resulting in substantial bodily harm.

The three, who are free on bail, are scheduled to go to trial on those charges on Oct. 22.

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