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Nurse takes plea deal in Hepatitis C case, will testify against Desai

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Updated: 12/11/2012 12:43 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- A nurse involved in one of Nevada’s biggest medical blunders took a plea deal Monday.

Keith Mathahs once faced nearly 30 charges, including second degree murder, in connection to a 2007 Hepatitis C outbreak that killed one person.

Mathahs is now down to just five criminal counts, including criminal neglect of patients.

As part of the deal, he’ll also have to testify against another nurse, Ronald Lakeman, and the doctor at the center of the case, Dr. Dipak Desai.

“He is approaching 77 years of age,” said Michael Cristalli, attorney for Mathahs. “This has put a lot of pressure and stress on his family.”

Cristalli said the move made sense.

“If he was to go to trial and be convicted, he would never get out of prison,” said Cristalli.

As part of the deal, Mathahs no longer faces the second degree murder charge.

He pleaded guilty to just five criminal counts.

The max sentence he could serve is six years.

“So the most Mr. Mathahs could get is a 28 to 72 month sentence,” said Mathahs. “I can argue on his behalf for a period of probation.”

The plea deal means Mathahs will testify against Dr. Desai and the other accused nurse, Ronald Lakeman.

Lakeman's attorney, Rick Santacroce said he's not worried.

“In a strange kind of way I think it actually helps us, because I'm sure the state is going to call Mr. Mathahs, but my client didn't do anything wrong, so there's nothing Mr. Mathahs can say when he testifies that's going to incriminate my client,” said Santacroce. “I think it will only bolster our defense.”

A sentencing date for Mathahs has not been set, because he still has to testify against Desai and Lakeman.

Trials for the two defendants are set to start in April.

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