LAS VEGAS (AP) — An ex-felon accused of practicing medicine without a license in Las Vegas described himself as a former porn actor and producer who follows an anti-authority sovereign citizen philosophy and learned to perform surgery from online videos, authorities said Thursday.
Rick Van Thiel, 52, posted an Internet video showing himself performing cyst-removal surgery on a Las Vegas woman who was accused in 2013 of plotting with another anti-government believer to kill Las Vegas police, according to an arrest report.
The woman, Devon Campbell Newman, pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor conspiracy charge in that case and received probation. Police say Newman, now 69, told them this year that Van Thiel treated her for cancer.
Van Thiel, who police say went by "Dr. Rick," was arrested Oct. 1 and remained jailed Thursday without bail pending an Oct. 20 preliminary hearing on multiple felony charges including practicing medicine without a license, drug and weapon possession.
Police say Van Thiel advertised that he could terminate pregnancies in the first 49 days, and that he was a sex-machine inventor who has cured most types of sexually transmitted diseases.
A Sept. 30 search of a trailer he used found written records suggesting he medically treated at least 23 people, had written agreements to treat 83 others, and administered injections of the blood thinner Heparin to two people.
Paperwork suggested he performed uterine procedures, dentistry including at least one tooth extraction, and treatments for cancer, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, police said.
A bomb squad was summoned and neighbors on East Monroe Avenue were evacuated during the search. Police later didn't say why.
Van Thiel has prior felony convictions for robbery, attempted robbery, burglary and assault in 1992 in California, and attempted battery with substantial bodily harm in 2007 in Nevada, according to the arrest report.
The FBI, police and the Southern Nevada Health District issued a call this week for people treated by Van Thiel to contact authorities. They said patients were recruited through websites including "itsonlynatural.me" and "49days.me" or responded to Craigs List ads under the term "49days."
Van Thiel told NBC affiliate KSNV-TV News3 (http://bit.ly/1jQUz4Q) that he's a sovereign citizen who learned to be a doctor from YouTube, books and videos so he could ease the suffering of other people.
He described agreements with people he treats as private contracts over which the government and courts have no jurisdiction.