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Jury Begins Hearing Hep C Outbreak Case

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A jury is seated and prosecutors are making opening statements in the trial of a former endoscopy clinic owner and an employee accused of causing a 2007 Las Vegas hepatitis C outbreak.

Twelve jurors and six alternates were selected Monday in Clark County District Court for the trial of former Dr. Dipak Desai and former nurse-anesthetist Ronald Lakeman.

They’ve pleaded not guilty to charges including murder, fraud and criminal neglect in the outbreak that became public in 2008.

Convictions could put each in prison for the rest of their lives.

Health officials notified 50,000 people to get tested for blood-borne diseases, and determined that nine people contracted hepatitis C at a Desai clinic where Lakeman also worked. One patient later died.

Prosecutors have accused Desai of running his operation like an “assembly line,” reusing equipment to save money.

Trial could take six weeks or more.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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