Judge lowers bond for man accused of practicing medicine illegally

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

March 28, 2014 at 4:04 p.m.
Updated March 28, 2014 at 10:29 p.m.

A judge lowered the bond for a man charged with 16 counts of illegally practicing medicine from $1 million to $50,000 on Friday.

The state tried to prove in an almost two-hour hearing that the original amount was necessary because Joseph Andrew DiRuzzo had been warned to put away his syringes before, but he did not.

His attorney, Brent Dornburg, however, described the $1 million bond as not only oppressive but also offensive.

"We've heard the term victim several times, but everyone was willing," Dornburg said about the seven individuals who have purportedly received treatments from DiRuzzo and reached out to police after media covered his arrest. "He wants to fight it. He's going to come to court, judge."

DiRuzzo, 62, should be given a $25,000 bond because the offense is a third-degree felony. The state did not demonstrate that he is a flight risk, and DiRuzzo has never received as much as a speeding ticket, Dornburg said.

Dornburg said afterward the new bond amount was reasonable.

"Seven-digit bonds are infrequent but not unheard of," said Criminal District Attorney Stephen Tyler. "People who are desperate, people who are in pain will try almost anything. To take advantage of them is wrong."

The Texas Medical Board sent DiRuzzo two cease and desist orders, and DiRuzzo wrote a letter to police when he learned about their investigation. In the letter, DiRuzzo implied he was above the law, Tyler said.

DiRuzzo's alleged co-conspirator, Timothy McMahan, 59, has a bond hearing Monday.

Police arrested DiRuzzo and McMahan on March 19. The men, in a truck just outside the Victoria Regional Airport, had a centrifuge, swabs, syringes, $3,000 in cash and vials with people's names on them. The vials carrying clear liquid have not yet been sent to a lab, Victoria Police Detective James Poe testified.

Inside McMahan’s briefcase were applications to join “Society for the Study of Cell and Molecular Biology.”

Poe understood that DiRuzzo's clients needed to pay to join this society and receive treatments for ailments ranging from headaches to strokes.

DiRuzzo would draw their blood and return to inject them later with what he claimed were stem cells. McMahan was in charge of setting up the appointments, which police later learned occurred in a building behind Grace Funeral Home, at a martial arts studio, in the airport lobby and at McMahan's business, Advantage Auto Sales, Poe said.

One family paid the men $25,500 from April to October 2013. While some people knew DiRuzzo wasn't a licensed physician, at least one has said he or she suffered physically and emotionally, Poe said.

Dornburg pointed out that DiRuzzo has sued the Texas Medical Board because he thinks he is in the right.

Dornburg also tried to determine why Poe typed the $1 million bond on the complaint before a magistrate agreed.

Magistrates, however, know they can cross it out and come up with their own figure, and typically, they do just that, Tyler said.

Poe and his partner are still trying to determine DiRuzzo's assets but know between $20,000 and $30,000 was wired monthly from at least two of his three bank accounts. They are also locating the owner of a plane DiRuzzo piloted to Victoria from Plano and College Station.

"There is no evidence that he cannot meet the requirements of the ($1 million) bond," Tyler said before the hearing concluded.

Judge Robert C. Cheshire presided over the hearing.

Tyler said DiRuzzo must post 10 percent of the new bond amount, or $5,000, to get out of jail now. He called the bond reduction decision "astounding."



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