By Jared Chausow
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McMahan has a long history of litigating his breakups, both personal and financial. In his divorce from Melinda Ewell, for example, he took the case to New York's appellate court, challenging an order compelling him to turn over tapes and files investigators had made while he had her under surveillance.
Ewell describes him as an egomaniac who lives his life in a series of ongoing sagas. The drama he creates feeds his ego and shapes the story of his life, she says.
"When you live with someone like that, it's not fun when you challenge them," she said.
When Ewell made allegations in her divorce that McMahan had treated her cruelly, McMahan countersued and accused Ewell of engaging in affairs and "attempting to seduce mutual friends and associates," according to an appellate opinion in the case. Ewell tells New Times that one of those men was billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who has been much in the news lately for allegedly hiring underaged women to strip topless and massage him at his Palm Beach mansion. At the time, in the early 1980s, McMahan and Epstein worked together at Bear Stearns in New York. Epstein didn't return a request for comment.
"Jeffrey Epstein worked with [McMahan]. He was, let's just say, in the divorce proceedings," she says. "I was asked to stop by Jeffrey's apartment to pick up some papers for Bruce. It didn't feel right, so I didn't even go in. I stood outside the door. And then, later, Jeff said I propositioned him. There were always allegations I was having to fight."
McMahan's business relationships have also ended in grinding court battles, some making it to federal appeals courts, creating case law.
Miami lawyer and British barrister Henk Milne represented William Toto, whom McMahan sued in 1996 after the Ohio engineer had lost money in an investment with McMahan.
"He served Bill in Florida at his vacation home," Milne said. "He made something like 49 attempts to serve him because, Bill always believed, he wanted to get him on vacation."
Three and a half years later, a judge dismissed the lawsuit and ordered McMahan to pay Toto $265,000 that he had spent in legal fees fighting the case. Toto died of cancer shortly after the case ended.
"He's basically a very wealthy stalker," Shani Robins tells New Times. Robins had been McMahan's latest target in court and is Linda's new boyfriend. He says McMahan is a bruiser in court "because he has the resources to do it."
In May, McMahan sued Robins in Superior Court in Connecticut, alleging wrongdoing when Robins accepted some donations Linda made from McMahan's National Cristina Foundation. (That lawsuit was also dropped as part of the September 13 settlement.)
Consistent with his litigious past, McMahan fought his daughter and son-in-law's lawsuits aggressively. But they fought back with what appeared to be solid evidence.
Court records show, for example, that in Sargent Schutt's lawsuit against McMahan, his attorney had a "rabbit" vibrator Schutt found in Linda's luggage tested for DNA. According to the test results, skin cells from Linda and sperm cells from her father were found on the device and its black cover. Five other vibrators were also sent to labs for testing.
Through a spokesman, McMahan responded that he believed the evidence was "fabricated" but didn't elaborate. He also made allegations in court that his e-mail had been altered.
Also, after spending more than a decade integrating her into the family, McMahan has now questioned in court records whether he is Linda's father.
Ex-wife Melinda Ewell tells New Times that McMahan never had any doubt Linda is his daughter. "There was never a question," she said. "She looks like some of the other kids. He had no qualms."
Some of McMahan's extended family did have their doubts. His eldest daughter, Alison McMahan, says she never trusted Linda.
"All I can tell you is that nothing Linda will tell you can be believed," she tells New Times in an e-mail. "She is an unreal person who does not even know herself."
Ewell, no fan of McMahan after their nasty divorce in 1984, can't quite believe the man slept with his own daughter.
"How much of this is reality, I don't know," Ewell said. "There is a far greater chance that this is in her head. Way, way back when, I noticed she was very possessive of him. At my son's wedding eight to ten years ago, she really hung around him, and if anyone else was trying to talk to Bruce, she would try and get his attention. She would move in. From what I have observed, money appears to be the motivator."
McMahan makes that allegation in his lawsuit against Linda and Schutt, claiming that he was the victim of an extortion scheme. But he apparently never made a formal complaint to law enforcement about the conspiracy against him. One of his attorneys, Angela Agrusa, says that a San Diego prosecutor considered the extortion allegations while investigating charges that Schutt had hit Linda during a July 2005 argument over who owned the computers containing the e-mails and photos detailing Linda and McMahan's love affair.