Two charged with illegal practicing of medicine
When a Victoria couple was promised results from a man claiming to be a doctor, they opened their checkbooks.
Joseph Andrew DiRuzzo, 62, of Plano, told his patients suffering from ailments such as arthritis and stroke-related side effects that for between $1,500 and $2,000, he would draw their blood and later return to inject them with stem cells pulled from their blood, according to a search warrant affidavit.
DiRuzzo and Timothy McMahan, 59, of Victoria, were both arrested Wednesday night on warrants charging them with 16 counts of illegal practicing of medicine. McMahan is charged with being an accomplice to the offenses. Both men are being held in Victoria County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond each.
According to the affidavit, which was signed by District Judge Skipper Koetter, the procedures took place in a building behind Grace Funeral Home. The owner said he learned about the incident when officers showed up at his office.
Charles H. Hauboldt III said a former part-time employee asked if he could use the funeral home's facility to host a doctor coming to Victoria to talk about medical research.
"He's an employee of mine. You tell me that you want to use my services - that's fine," Hauboldt said. "We had no knowledge of anything going on."
According to the affidavit, the employee, Ken Breazeale, admitted to receiving treatments from DiRuzzo and told detectives he believed that they helped him.
Breazeale told detectives he paid for four treatments in cash, $400 each, and provided DiRuzzo with the room at the funeral home.
Bank records show that another patient wrote 17 checks totaling $25,500 for the treatments, according to the affidavit. The comment lines on the checks had various descriptions, such as "medical treatment," "medical," "cells" and "3rd blood."
DiRuzzo stopped using the facility at the funeral home in May 2013, and it wasn't until March that the FBI notified Victoria detectives that DiRuzzo was conducting his procedures at the Victoria Regional Airport.
A fixed-wing aircraft registered to DiRuzzo began flying into the airport. According to records on flightware.com, the plane last landed in Victoria at 6:14 p.m. March 11.
The plane was later registered to a Milford, N.Y., woman, according to the affidavit.
"Because of the ongoing investigation, I'm not comfortable commenting before I am briefed by law enforcement," said airport manager Jason Milewski. "I'm reluctant to say anything that might interfere."
Milewski did say the illegal activity did not interfere or impact operations at the airport and that airport officials operated at full cooperation with law enforcement.
A spokesman with the Victoria Police Department was unable to release any other information because of the ongoing investigation.
The Texas Medical Board ordered DiRuzzo in December to immediately cease and desist with unlicensed practice of medicine in the state of Texas and to refrain from acting as or holding himself out to be a licensed physician in the state of Texas.
According to the affidavit, DiRuzzo has never been authorized or licensed by the Texas Medical Board to practice medicine in Texas.