Prosecutors are moving to dismiss eight counts of felony theft against a Lake Havasu City boat dealer accused of defrauding dozens of customers in an alleged Ponzi scheme.
Jury selection began Tuesday afternoon in Mohave Superior Court for the first day of what is expected by the Mohave County Attorney’s Office to be a two-week trial for former Offshore Custom Marine owner Timothy McDonald.
Eight of the theft charges are being dismissed because alleged victims and witnesses were unavailable to testify to those counts, according to court documents.
A motion to continue the trial was filed last month, with a request from defense attorney Mark Mendoza to postpone McDonald’s trial until 2020 to obtain financial records from storage, financial institutions and from McDonald’s ex-wife. That request was denied by Mohave Superior Court Judge Billy Sipe, according to Mohave County Deputy Attorney James Schoppman, but a second motion to continue was made by Mendoza on Tuesday, citing a family emergency on McDonald’s behalf.
McDonald was accused of more than 22 counts of felony theft and one count of fraud when former customers allegedly attempted to sell their watercraft through his business, by consignment, from 2013 to 2017. Police said some of McDonald’s customers saw long delays between McDonald selling their watercraft and receiving payment, while other customers were never paid at all. When McDonald closed his business and apparently disappeared more than two years ago, 20 of his customers were allegedly still awaiting payment from the sale of their respective watercraft.
According to police, two of McDonald’s alleged victims saw a photo of him online in 2018, and an acquaintance identified his location as that of Newport Beach, California. The victims allegedly alerted authorities, who found McDonald living on a houseboat at the location.
McDonald was arrested and extradited to Mohave County in 2018. He has remained free from custody on $20,000 bond since 2018.
Sipe has scheduled a hearing at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday to determine whether he will approve McDonald’s most recent motion for a continuance.