A Tucson construction worker who claims he can cure gynecological cancers by treating women with ozone was found guilty of practicing without a license, a misdemeanor, Friday, but the jury deadlocked on whether he was guilty of the felony fraud and illegally conducting an enterprise charges.
Robert Ray White, 50, will learn on Oct. 9 if the Arizona Attorney General’s Office will take him to trial a second time.
White, who was also convicted of possession of methamphetamine and cocaine Friday, will be sentenced Oct. 24. He is eligible for probation.
For the past two days, jurors heard testimony in the trial of White, who treated women suffering from such issues as infertility to ovarian cysts to menstrual cramps by assisting them to insert ozone, a deadly gas, into their bodies through a catheter.
During closing arguments Thursday afternoon, Assistant Arizona Attorney General Michael Jette told jurors the women thought White was helping them, so they chose not to seek treatment elsewhere. White never discussed the risks involved in the procedure with them, Jette said.
"They're vulnerable and they're looking for something, and he doesn't tell them, 'It's dangerous,' " Jette said. "He tells them, 'Don't tell your doctor.' He told FBI agents, 'It's illegal.' "
Jette tried the case with the help of two third-year UA law school students, Jordan Emerson and Athan Papailiou.
Emerson urged the jurors to hold White accountable, saying, "He wasn't giving them an aspirin for a headache and he wasn't giving them Neosporin and a Band-Aid for a cut."
In December 2010, White, 50, was indicted on aggravated assault, fraud, illegally conducting an enterprise, practicing without a license, possession of drugs and misconduct involving weapons charges. Pima County Superior Court Judge Deborah Bernini dismissed the assault and weapons charges before the case went to the jury.
FBI Special Agent Carolyn Middleton testified that agents learned a man on Tucson's east side was treating women with gynecological cancers in his home, and that one of his patients was injured and needed to seek medical treatment as a result.
Two undercover agents went to White's home, with one claiming to have uterine cancer.
During the secretly taped encounter, White, who has no medical training, said he could cure uterine cancer and had provided ozone therapy to 26 people previously. He told the agents he provided "detox" treatments before administering the ozone therapy vaginally.
The detox treatments would be $25 apiece and the ozone treatments would be $40 apiece, White said. He recommended the woman receive 24 ozone treatments.
Ozone therapy is the "greatest thing on Earth," and "totally safe," White said.
White urged the woman not to tell her doctors about receiving ozone therapy because it's illegal, and "if you cure somebody through ozone, you're getting thrown in prison."
White told the agents the U.S. government knows ozone therapy cures cancer but won't legalize it because of the huge economic impact it would have on pharmaceutical companies and doctors.
"Americans have got to wake up and realize they are killing us," White was recorded saying. "The body is capable of healing itself. You've just got to give it tools."
A search of White's home turned up methamphetamine, cocaine, oxygen tanks and other medical equipment, Middleton said. They also found a handgun and an AK-47 assault rifle, which are illegal to possess if you also have illicit drugs in your home, Middleton said.
Dr. Michael Bookman, of the University of Arizona Cancer Center, testified he is not aware of any Food and Drug Administration studies on ozone therapy, and it's potentially deadly if injected.
Short of that, he said, inserting ozone vaginally could cause tissue irritation and inflammation. The inflammation could then result in a buildup of scar tissue and other problems, said Bookman, director of the section of hematology/oncology at the UACC and UA College of Medicine.
A wrongly inserted catheter could cause the gas to invade the abdominal cavity and spread further or perforate organs, Bookman said. A nonsterilized catheter could cause infection.
Jamie Hartland, Nilda Arias, Linda Hernandez and Leslie Longway, all friends of White's, testified they received ozone therapy at White's home at his urging and after having researched it on the Internet.
Hartland said the ozone helped ease her menstrual cramps, Hernandez claimed it cured her of Lyme disease, and Arias said it helped her conceive. Longway testified ozone helped her purge a cyst and avoid a hysterectomy.
The women testified White never charged them for the use of his ozone machine.
During his closing argument, defense attorney Barry Baker Sipe compared White's services to those of an amateur barber. Hypothetically speaking, someone who gives razor cuts to friends or puts in corn rows could be charged with fraud and illegally conducting an enterprise if those services are performed at home, he said.
Of course there were risks involved with ozone therapy, but there are also risks involved in having your hair styled, Sipe said.
None of the women who testified were "hoodwinked" or deceived, Sipe said. None of them paid White, and none of them had cancer, he said.
He also pointed out the women themselves inserted the catheter, and a man who was not indicted treated the women intravenously.
Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or firstname.lastname@example.org