District Attorney Martin Braddy began presenting evidence and witnesses today in a restitution hearing for long-time Sulphur Springs physician Don Martin O'Neal.
The restitution hearing is the result of an agreement in which Dr. O'Neal entered a plea of guilty last November to the misapplication of more than $800,000 in fiduciary funds, money that should have gone to Sulphur Springs Medical-Surgical Clinic. A part of the plea bargain was the repayment of the funds that were re-directed into O'Neal's personal accounts.
The first witness called by Braddy was Dr. Curtis Cutrell, a former partner with Dr. O'Neal in the medical-surgical clinic.
Cutrell said he became aware of mismanagement of funds when he and other partners in the clinic noticed financial shortfalls during a time when Dr. O'Neal and Gary Stokes, a partner with O'Neal in several other medical-related corporations, were acting in business management capacities in the clinic.
Cutrell called the number of different corporations, both for the clinic and the corporations organized by Stokes and O’Neal, an “extremely complicated situation.”
Testimony regarding a large portion of the total amount sought revolved around a physician recruited by O'Neal and Stokes and the repayment of money advanced to the doctor.
Two contracts regarding the new doctor were presented as evidence. One contract Dr. Cutrell was aware of. The other came to the attention of the clinic partners during depositions earlier this year in connection with a civil suit O'Neal and his wife filed against the other partners of the clinic.
Still another large part of the total amount, the district attorney contended, was related to the lease and later purchase of an electro-cardiograph machine.
The machine, owned by Stokes and his wife, Dr. Debra Stokes, was first leased when Dr. Stokes joined the clinic partnership, and as much as half the payments appeared in O'Neal's account.
Testimony was expected to continue at least through Tuesday afternoon.
O'Neal's plea-bargain agreement late last year allowed the doctor to plead guilty to only one charge if misapplication of fiduciary funds in exchange for a 10-year probated sentence with deferred adjudication.
Two other misapplication indictments, three theft indictments and more than 60 indictments for fraud involving writing prescriptions for and the delivery of controlled substances were dismissed as a part of the agreement.
After the restitution issue is resolved, legal problems for the embattled physician are not over, O'Neal, along with his wife Mary Ann were indicted for theft and Medicaid fraud as the result of a investigation by the Medicaid Fraud Division of the Texas Attorney General's office.
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