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Cancer center fraud trial delayed as prosecutors mull more charges

SUMMIT — A trial that had been scheduled to begin today has been delayed for a former cancer clinic owner and two others charged with participating in a multi-million-dollar fraud that allegedly involved diluting chemotherapy drugs and using old syringes on multiple patients.

Dr. Meera Sachdeva, Brittany McCoskey and Monica Weeks are charged with offenses including conspiracy and witness tampering related to the activities of Rose Cancer Center in Summit. Their trial in U.S. District Court in Jackson was postponed after prosecutors filed a motion in March asking for more time to prepare. Prosecutors said more charges are likely to be filed.

No new court date was posted in court records.

Sachdeva established the clinic in south Mississippi in 2005. Authorities say the clinic watered down drugs and billed Medicaid, Medicare and insurance companies for more chemotherapy drugs than patients received. The clinic billed Medicaid and Medicare for about $15.1 million during the alleged scheme.

Sachdeva has been held without bond since August because authorities consider her a flight risk. She is a naturalized U.S. citizen from India. Prosecutors said she often traveled overseas and has considerable assets, including bank accounts, in her native country, despite the seizure of about $6 million.

McCoskey and Weeks are free on bond. Prosecutors say Weeks did billing for the clinic, while McCoskey was a receptionist and later the office manager.

The Mississippi Health Department closed Rose Cancer Center in July because of “unsafe infection control practices” after 11 patients were hospitalized with the same bacterial infection.

The scare led officials to test nearly 300 cancer patients for infections such as HIV. The department has said none of the patients tested had blood-borne viral infections related to the clinic’s care.

However, a civil lawsuit claims at least one patient died about the time the clinic was shut down from HIV he contracted there.

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