Vegas hep-C co-defendant called forgotten person

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A defense attorney has cast a former endoscopy clinic employee as a forgotten person as he and his former employer stand trial on murder and other charges in a hepatitis C outbreak.

Attorney Frederick Santacroce acknowledged during opening statements on Tuesday that the community was outraged and demanded answers after the outbreak became public in 2008.

However, Santacroce maintains his client, former nurse-anesthetist Ronald Lakeman, was a dutiful employee — not the person responsible for infections found in seven former patients at the clinic where Lakeman worked for Dr. Dipak Desai (DEE’-pahk deh-SEYE’).

A prosecutor on Monday said the clinic emphasized speed and profitability so much that incurable liver disease was spread from patient to patient.

Health officials say at least nine people were infected in Desai facilities in 2007, including one who died.

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