Bond for second man charged with illegally practicing medicine reduced

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

March 31, 2014 at 8:03 p.m.
Updated March 31, 2014 at 11:01 p.m.

A judge reduced a $1 million bond for a Victoria man charged with arranging appointments for people to have their blood drawn and purported stem cells injected by an unlicensed doctor.

The bond for Timothy McMahan, who was formally charged with 16 counts of illegally practicing medicine, is now $10,000.

"I think that the judge was very fair," said McMahan's attorney Richard W.B. "Rick" Davis. "I was impressed with his patience."

Davis, of Bryan, sought to prove throughout the Monday afternoon hearing that no one was hurt by the procedures Joseph Andrew DiRuzzo is charged with performing around Victoria.

DiRuzzo, 62, also faces 16 counts of illegally practicing medicine. He and McMahan, 59, were arrested on March 19.

Davis first called to the stand Alan Dennis, a Victoria man who had a stroke previously and now experiences balance problems. Dennis said McMahan, a longtime friend, would send an email to tell him when DiRuzzo was in town.

The $1,500 check Dennis wrote to DiRuzzo included payment for a blood draw and what he thinks was an injection of his own stem cells.

"I don't believe I'm a victim. ... I wish I could get more," Dennis said of the procedures.

"If they were anything but stem cells, would you feel like you were being defrauded?" Criminal District Attorney Stephen Tyler asked during his cross-examination of Dennis.

"If that's the case, yes," Dennis said.

Tyler pointed out later that the portion of the occupations code McMahan and DiRuzzo are charged with violating - illegally practicing medicine - does not require a victim to be named.

If they were charged with the portion that accuses them of harming someone, the harm could be physical, psychological or financial.

Davis called three other witnesses who had the procedure done by DiRuzzo. They were Hope Dennis, Marc Bernhard and Robert Seale.

"All of the witnesses testified they had no reason to believe Timothy received any financial benefit from this," Davis said, noting McMahan and his wife, Karen, also received the procedure.

McMahan's wife then testified the $3,000 found in an envelope in McMahan's briefcase after his arrest was from the couple's used car sale business.

"In fact, she was the one who put the money in the envelope," Davis said.

Detective James Poe said Victoria police found the $3,000 in cash alongside applications for the Society for the Study of Cell and Molecular Biology, which he understood one must join to receive these procedures.

The $3,000 is about what it would cost to have two of these procedures, he said.

Tyler said after the hearing that Karen McMahan's testimony about where the $3,000 came from will likely only affect a civil forfeiture case.

It will be up to a judge or a jury to decide whether she's telling the truth in the criminal case, he said.

Davis added he sees parallels between this case and the Dallas Buyers Club. The movie, which came out last year, depicts an HIV-positive man searching for alternative treatment in another country and setting up a club for people to receive that same treatment, according to the Internet Movie Database.

Tyler, meanwhile, did not think the defense proved McMahan could not obtain a bond, which it was required to do.

Karen McMahan did not recall which bondsman she spoke with or how much the couple's property or assets were worth, he said.

"My argument is that she was not a competent witness as to the defendant's personal finances," Tyler said.

DiRuzzo's bond was reduced Friday from $1 million to $50,000.

DiRuzzo was able to obtain a bond through Bail Bond Hotline of Texas, but its manager, Mark Tamez, declined to say what DiRuzzo put down as collateral, citing confidentiality reasons.

McMahan was still in the Victoria County Jail as of 8 p.m. Monday.

Judge Robert C. Cheshire presided over both hearings.



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