Federal prosecutors have taken over an illegal gun possession charge against alleged phony doctor Rick Van Thiel, while state authorities pursue murder, sexual assault and other possible charges.
State prosecutors said Monday they would drop charges of an ex-felon in possession of a firearm, and that Van Thiel, a self-proclaimed sovereign citizen, would be taken into federal custody.
Prosecutors have said Van Thiel could have killed three people who sought treatment from him, although he has not formally been charged in the deaths.
Van Thiel was charged in a federal complaint late Friday with a single felony count of possession of a firearm or ammunition by a prohibited person.
He has not yet made an initial appearance on the charge in federal court.
State and federal authorities on Sept. 30 seized two handguns and ammunition from a safe inside a semitrailer owned by Van Thiel on property at 4928 E. Monroe Ave., the complaint says.
Van Thiel is barred from possessing handguns because of his lengthy criminal record. His felony convictions include attempted battery with substantial bodily harm, robbery, attempted robbery, burglary and assault with a firearm on a person, according to the complaint.
A man identified as Ronnie Leonard Grayson told authorities that he gave Van Thiel one of the weapons as collateral for a circumcision Van Thiel performed on him, the complaint says.
Earlier this month, Van Thiel told District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez that he did not expect to live to a court hearing scheduled for early December.
He said he was suffering from what’s referred to as Morgellons disease, described by the Mayo Clinic as “an uncommon, unexplained skin disorder characterized by sores, crawling sensations on and under the skin, and fiberlike filaments emerging from the sores.”
Public defender Scott Coffee noted that Van Thiel had visible rashes, although it was unclear whether he had been treated in jail for the condition.
It could be months before more serious charges against Van Thiel are handed down. Prosecutors are expected to present their evidence to a grand jury and try those charges separately.
Prosecutors said three people Van Thiel persuaded to stop taking antiviral medication had died. As recently as September, a woman who had an abortion had gone to Van Thiel and he performed sexual acts on her, according to prosecutors.
Van Thiel would watch up to 50 YouTube videos to learn procedures about how to treat women who have had miscarriages, or how to perform abortions, circumcisions, cancer treatment and HIV treatment, according to prosecutor Michelle Fleck.
The 52-year-old kept records on more than 80 so-called “patients” who could potentially be victims. His practice, based at residential property near the intersection of Owens Avenue and Nellis Boulevard, was shut down last month after Las Vegas police and FBI agents executed a search warrant on the property.
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