Fundraiser, rally for Bigelsens on Sunday | TheUnion.com

Fundraiser, rally for Bigelsens on Sunday

Harvey and Judy Bigelsen will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary Sunday, from 3-7 p.m. at Summer Thymes, 231 Colfax Ave., Grass Valley. It is a multipurpose event that includes a silent auction, rally and fundraiser to celebrate and support the Bigelsen family. The Bigelsen clinic was raided last March without notice or warning. Currently, Harvey Bigelsen is facing nine misdemeanor counts for distributing homeopathic remedies and other related offenses, including practicing medicine without a license, even though Bigelsen says he does not practice medicine. The community is rallying this Sunday to support and inform the public about the risks to alternative medicine. The Bigelsens have been devastated by the raid, the closure of their business, subsequent foreclosure of their Nevada City home and now state and county prosecution. This grassroots fundraiser is to defray legal costs and living expenses while the Bigelsen's clinic is closed. Hors d'oeuvres, live music, a silent auction and a host of information on your health freedoms will be available. A minimum of $10 is a suggested donation. To volunteer, donate or provide auction items, contact reinettesenum@gmail.com.

Supporters, critics react to Bigelsen prosecution

Supporters and critics of a Nevada City holistic physician are reacting to news that he is being charged with various medical business-related criminal offenses in a complaint filed Friday by the Nevada County District Attorney's office. Dr. Harvey Bigelsen, whose clinic was shut down March 20 after a raid by investigators from the California Medical Board, is facing nine misdemeanor counts of practicing medicine without a license, distributing homeopathic remedies and related offenses, according to the complaint filed in Nevada County Superior Court. "I find this persecution reprehensible!" said Marilyn Nyborg of Grass Valley in a letter to the editor of The Union. "He does not present himself as a doctor but as a homeopathic practitioner. "Does this mean all such practitioners should be afraid?" Nyborg added. "Does this mean all the alternative health people in Nevada County should run for cover?" Bigelsen's attorney, Elliott Faust of Auburn, declined comment Monday, saying he had not had a chance to review the complaint, see discovery or query the district attorney's office about the case. Bigelsen, 73, and his wife, Judy Bigelsen, interviewed Friday by The Union, said they have been devastated by the raid, the shutdown of their business, the subsequent foreclosure of their Nevada City home and now the county's prosecution. "They shut me down without a hearing," Bigelsen said, referring to his clinic, the Biological Health Institute, formerly on Providence Mine Road. "Aren't we innocent until proven guilty?" Judy Bigelsen, who said she had been working on a loan modification on their Nevada City home before the raid, said they lost the house to foreclosure after the lender heard the business was shut down. They have since moved to a new location in South County. "The only thing that's kept us from jumping off the plank is when we go on Facebook," she said. "You have no idea of the support we've had online, in phone calls with people crying and people knocking on our door." Supporters are organizing a fundraiser and a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for the Bigelsens from 3 to 7 p.m., June 22, at Summer Thymes restaurant in Grass Valley. The National Health Federation in Monrovia, Calif., has also posted a video entitled "The National Betrayal of Harvey Bigelsen." Bigelsen, whose latest of multiple books is titled "Doctors Are More Harmful Than Germs," is a board member of the federation. Critics say Bigelsen, who has in the past been mentioned on the national website Quackwatch, has been evasive and unresponsive in recent months. "He doesn't keep his website up to date, doesn't keep his blog up to date, doesn't respond to phone calls," said Fred Lorenzino of San Francisco, who said he is an acquaintance of Bigelsen's who had referred people to the doctor in the past for alternative therapy for cancer and other conditions. Bigelsen said he had no idea who Lorenzino was, had no record of him in his files and didn't know anything about him. Some local medical experts, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, say they've had mixed reports, with some former clients claiming they had received help from Bigelsen's clinic and others saying there were some internal problems in the clinic management. Bigelsen said he had no word on any internal problems at the clinic. According to Bigelsen, who is no stranger to controversy, he went out of his way in his Nevada City clinic to stay within the guidelines of acting as a consultant, working with an osteopath and a naturopath to analyze blood samples and avoid anything that suggested he was practicing medicine. "I did everything possible to prevent something like this from happening," Bigelsen said of the raid and the subsequent charges. A native New Yorker, Bigelsen went to Kenyon College and graduated from SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine. During his subsequent residency he was sent to Vietnam and assigned as a trauma surgeon. During 1968-69, he performed more than 200 surgeries in Vietnam, he said. After returning from the military and setting up a practice as an ophthalmologist in New Jersey, Bigelsen had an awakening of sorts. A patient he had been counseling to have surgery for glaucoma refused to go under the knife and left to seek help from an alternative practitioner and healer. When she returned a short time later, her glaucoma was gone. The healer was the late Vincent Ragone, who Bigelsen said had been a psychic to four U.S. presidents. Inspired by Ragone, Bigelsen left his medical practice to study the work of the late medical psychic Edgar Cayce at a clinic in Arizona. He became a founding board member of the American Holistic Medical Association in 1978. Bigelsen wrote the first U.S. law for homeopathy practitioners in Arizona and was twice appointed by then-Gov. Bruce Babbitt to serve on the board overseeing the law. He received the "Homeopathic Man of the Year Award in 1986" in Arizona. Homeopathy uses dilutions of various natural substances to adjust the immune system and body chemistry to achieve balance. Bigelsen's breakthrough in homeopathy came when Dr. Fredrick Plog, a German naturopathic doctor who used a system called Enderlein therapy, cured his son, Adam, then 17, of mononucleosis in four days instead of the normal six months. In the Enderlein therapy, the homeopathic remedy may be mixed with the person's own blood and then injected back into the person's body. "I was extremely excited about what I had seen and immediately asked Dr. Plog to teach me his methods," Bigelsen writes in his book, "Your Cure for Cancer." "He had virtually done the impossible, and I was not going to let him leave without showing me everything he knew." From there, Bigelsen developed an eclectic body of healing techniques that included the homeopathic remedies, as well as what he calls "dark field" microscopic analysis of "live" blood, or blood that has not been stained as is normally done to show red and white blood cells. Bigelsen said Friday that he had to surrender his Arizona and Nevada medical licenses after a problem with Medicare officials, who had audited a chelation therapist working under him at his Arizona clinic and found coding irregularities. "I was subject to a random audit, and they randomly picked out the only 28 chelation cases out of my 5,000-case file," he said. "They also randomly audited 22 other chelation therapists that year out of 70 who were practicing." Although Bigelsen did not do any chelation, and although Medicare did not have appropriate coding for chelation therapy, a grand jury in 1992 indicted him on 117 counts of Medicare fraud. The penalty, $3,500, was ultimately settled for $145, Bigelsen said. "It was one of the lowest-cost indictments in history," Bigelsen said. "Sen. Bill Frist (a Tennessee Republican who was also an M.D.) was indicted for a $1.7 billion misdemeanor, and I was indicted for a $3,500 felony." After that, Bigelsen decided he had had enough of the U.S. system and went to Baja, Mexico, where he practiced for some years before returning to California, first in the Lake Tahoe area and then to the clinic in Nevada County in 2004-05. He says he retains the "Dr." title, as would any retired M.D. "The community has embraced what we do," he said Friday. "We have helped hundreds of people," he said. "As far as we know, we haven't had any complaints." To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

Nevada County judge to rule in Bigelsen case

A Nevada County judge is expected to rule Tuesday on a defense motion to suppress evidence in the case of Nevada City holistic physician Harvey Bigelsen. Nevada County Superior Court Judge Candice Heidelberger has set a 9 a.m. hearing Tuesday to announce her decision on Bigelsen, who faces nine misdemeanor counts of allegedly practicing medicine without a license and related charges. Bigelsen has pleaded not guilty to the charges. "We are tired, and do so hope it ends soon," said Bigelsen's wife Judy Bigelsen of the case that broke March 20 when state investigators raided Bigelsen's Biological Health Institute and shut the clinic down. Bigelsen said he has been unable to work since the raid, where investigators seized as evidence two high-powered microscopes that he had used to examine and analyze live blood cells. "We hope everyone will be there to support us once again," Judy Bigelsen said, referring to the Nov. 13 hearing where about 60 supporters showed up at the county courthouse in Nevada City, only to have the decision delayed two weeks so that all the arguments could be taken under review. "Words can't tell you how grateful we are to all who have followed this journey with us." At issue, according Bigelsen's attorney Mark Geragos, is whether the state had proper authority to conduct the March 20 raid and a March 4 sting operation. On March 4, a state investigator posing as a patient and wearing a hidden video camera came to Bigelsen's clinic complaining of depression and fatigue. The video was also seized as part of the evidence in the case. Geragos is claiming all the evidence collected in the raid and undercover sting should be suppressed because the state lacked a search warrant or other authority to conduct either operation. Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Ray DeJesus argued on Nov. 13 that the state had authority granted by several different statutes, orders and permissions. Geragos on Nov. 13 dismissed those arguments, saying they were not valid. Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell, however, has filed several reply briefs to Geragos' motion citing what he believes to be appropriate authority for the state to conduct the sting and the raid. The motion to suppress, if granted, could mean the case would not go trial or could be dismissed. Newell has said his office would "reassess" where to go from there if the motion were to be granted. To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

Nevada County judge delays ruling in Bigelsen case

A Nevada County judge delayed ruling Thursday on a motion to suppress evidence in the case of holistic physician Harvey Bigelsen. Superior Court Judge Candice Heidelberger, citing a need for more time to analyze the multiple briefs filed in the case in recent days, said she would rule at a 9 a.m. hearing on Nov. 25, or earlier in written form if possible. Heidelberger announced her decision to take the case under submission after Thursday's 30-minute hearing in front of about 60 Bigelsen supporters in a packed courtroom at the Nevada County Courthouse in Nevada City. At the hearing, Bigelsen's attorney, Mark Geragos, and Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Ray DeJesus argued over whether legal violations occurred in the March 20 raid on Bigelsen's Biological Health Institute clinic in Nevada City and at a March 4 undercover sting operation where a state investigator posed as a patient at the clinic and recorded the session with a concealed video camera. "The main issue is they did not have a search warrant — even though they had time to get a warrant," Geragos said. "You just can't eviscerate the Fourth Amendment (against unreasonable searches and seizures) because some meddlesome dentist is making a complaint," said Geragos, referring to a complaint from North San Juan dentist Robert Dickter that court documents indicate was the trigger for the sting and subsequent raid. During the raid, which shut down the clinic, investigators seized as evidence two high-powered microscopes Bigelsen had used to examine and analyze live blood cells, among other items. DeJesus, however, told Heidelberger that the county had blanket authority to do criminal investigations under a Dec. 11 administrative authorization letter that covered such probes on a statewide basis. Also, the California Health and Safety Code allows for inspections of businesses for code violations on a statewide basis, he said. "The (March 4) undercover operation was not considered a search," DeJesus said. "There was no physical evidence seized; just a recording was made — there is no evidence to suppress." District Attorney Cliff Newell echoed those comments in a message later on Thursday. "I believe the investigators in this case followed appropriate procedures and investigative techniques," Newell said. Two briefs submitted to the court Thursday argue that no search warrant was needed for the March 20 raid and that the March 4 undercover sting recording was legal in that permission was granted to do the undercover recording by Newell's office. Thursday's hearing was supposed to have included testimony from state investigators acting as expert witnesses. That testimony, however, was waived after both Geragos and DeJesus told Heidelberger they had no dispute with the factual elements of the case. Geragos, a high-profile attorney who has represented Michael Jackson and many Hollywood stars, told Heidelberger that he questioned the authority of the Dec. 11 letter to permit the undercover sting or the raid. "The D.A.'s letter states it's only for criminal investigation," he said. "Then (on March 4) they went in and made an appointment to allow them to go into the private areas of the clinic in an attempt to frame Dr. Bigelsen. "If this was administrative authority, then they never would have needed the surreptitious actions," he said. As to the state health and safety code, Geragos dismissed that as authorization to seize evidence at a medical clinic, claiming it was designed for inspections of "yogurt, grains or maybe a slaughterhouse." Both attorneys cited a 1997 case, Bradley v. California Medical Board, in which a search warrant was obtained to investigate a medical doctor. DeJesus said the case provided precedent that no warrant was required even though one was obtained; Geragos said the case indicates that the authorities only got the warrant after securing probable cause. "There was no probable cause here," Geragos said. He said the state and county had four months to get the search warrant between the time of the Dec. 11 letter and the March 20 raid, but failed to do so. If the motion to suppress is denied, Bigelsen faces nine misdemeanor counts of practicing medicine without a license, advertising himself as a physician without a license, mixing homeopathic remedies without a license and related charges. If the motion is granted, then none of the evidence can be used at trial. Newell said if the motion is granted, his office would "have to reassess" where to go from there. Bigelsen, who surrendered his MD license in a plea deal for an alleged Medicare fraud case in Arizona in the 1990s, said he is careful to act only as a consultant to naturopaths or other licensed physicians and does not treat patients himself. All clients at the clinic, including the March 4 undercover state investigator, are required to sign a "consent to treat" form that explains that Bigelsen is only a consultant and will not provide a diagnosis or treatment. "She tried to get me to give her a diagnosis, but I would not," said Bigelsen of the March 4 sting operation video. Bigelsen said the woman came to the office complaining of fatigue and depression. "The naturopath stuck her with a needle, and the naturopath mixed up some remedies," he said. "I didn't touch her." When the woman said she was taking antidepressants, Bigelsen said he told her only that if it were him, he would switch to natural remedies. "I told her, 'This is what I take,'" Bigelsen said. "I didn't give her a diagnosis, and I didn't tell her to stop taking the drugs." He said he was frustrated by Thursday's delay in the case because he is unable to do any work without his microscopes. "Why can't they just take a picture?" he said of the microscopes. Supporters volunteered stories of major health improvements they received at Bigelsen's clinic after other traditional medical treatments had failed. "Dr. Bigelsen saved my life," said Fiona Gardner of Nevada City, a former receptionist at the Bigelsen clinic who suffered for six or seven years with an unspecified illness that mainstream doctors were unable to diagnose, she said. "They wanted to take out my bladder, then they said maybe it would help to take out my ovaries." She said she found almost immediate relief at Bigelsen's clinic about five years ago and is now having a "vibrant and alive" lifestyle. "My mom and dad came all the way from England to see him," Gardner said. "He's the one." Markus Keicher of North San Juan said he was paralyzed from a motorcycle accident in 1995 and on crutches for years. "I could hardly walk," he said. Keicher said he began seeing Bigelsen in 2009 and saw improvement within about a year. He continued seeing Bigelsen for about three years and is now able to walk with only a slight limp. "People see me now and they think, 'Maybe he hurt his ankle or something,'" he said. "And I used to be paralyzed." To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

Complainant identified in Bigelsen case

A North San Juan dentist filed the initial complaint that led to the arrest of holistic physician Harvey Bigelsen and the closure of his Nevada City clinic March 20, court records indicate. Robert Dickter filed the complaint on Jan. 20, 2012, according to an investigation report prepared by the Medical Board of California and submitted to Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson. Dickter, the subject over the weekend of a thread of 44 critical posts on the private Facebook group The San Juan Ridge Community Forum, could not be reached for comment. "He never was a patient of mine," Bigelsen said Monday morning at Nevada County Superior Court. Bigelsen said the only contact he has had with Dickter was over the phone some time ago when the dentist called him to rant about a radio show where Bigelsen spoke on the potential relationship between Lyme disease and dentistry. "He was enraged," Bigelsen said. The website for the California Dental Board lists Dickter as having a current license, with no disciplinary actions. Dental board staff could not be reached for comment on Monday. About 25 Bigelsen supporters attended Monday's brief hearing, the latest in the series of pretrial hearings since the March 20 raid where Bigelsen was arrested on nine counts of suspicion of practicing medicine without a license and related charges. Bigelsen, who maintains that he was operating as a consultant performing blood sample analyses and not practicing medicine, has pleaded not guilty, as has his son Josh Bigelsen, who was also arrested on similar but lesser charges. "I've not had one patient complaint in 30 years," Bigelsen said. "There's just this one angry dentist whom I've never seen." At Monday's hearing, attorney Elliott Faust of Auburn, substituting for attorney Mark Geragos, filed a motion to suppress evidence and a proposed order to return Bigelsen's microscopes confiscated during the March 20 raid. Superior Court Judge Linda Sloven set a 9 a.m. Nov. 13 hearing date for the motion to suppress. According to a copy of the motion, Geragos is seeking to suppress "any and all items seized from the defendant by California Medical Board investigators and/or the California Department of Public Health's Food and Drug Branch." That includes such items as "video surveillance footage, witness and patient interviews" and other information and observations from the investigators. "They shut me down without a hearing," Bigelsen said. "They won't give me my microscopes back." Josh Bigelsen said there was never a "cease and desist" warning or any type of warrant before the raid. "They said I was resisting," Harvey Bigelsen said. "They had seven uniformed deputies who pushed me out of the way — how much resistance do you think a 73-year-old man like me would give to that?" Bigelsen's case has become somewhat of a cause celebre for holistic medicine supporters, patients and practitioners — as well as a whipping boy for critics who lob allegations of quackery and "snake oil salesmen." The Union columnist George Boardman, who on Monday fell into the latter category, said many people choose to reject modern medicine and then fall "for voodoo medicine that didn't work a millennium ago and still doesn't work." On the other hand, Ken Lehman of Nevada City, a body worker who does cranial-sacral therapy, said Bigelsen saved his life seven years ago when he "literally crawled into his office" after visiting numerous medical doctors, with no success. "I was really, really ill," Lehman said. "No one could figure out what was wrong with me." According to Lehman, "Dr. Bigelsen took one drop of my blood, looked at it under the microscope, and in three minutes, said 'You've been poisoned.'" As it turned out, Lehman had been cleaning out an old basement in Tahoe and had likely inhaled rat poison. "I got treatment and he fixed me, right as rain," said Lehman, who said he has been healthy ever since. According to court documents, Dickter's complaint came after he visited Bigelsen's office on Jan. 6, 2012. "(He) was given a 'Client Consent Form' which explained that Harvey Bigelsen is unlicensed but all medical treatments at the clinic are supervised by Dr. Joseph Watson, a licensed Osteopathic Physician," the documents state. "On 03-14-12, (investigator) Wright checked the online licensing record for the Medical Board of California, the Osteopathic Medical Board of California and the Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine and found no record of a license issued to neither Harvey nor Joshua Bigelsen," the report adds. Bigelsen, who was previously licensed in Arizona, where he authored the first homeopathic medical practice law in that state, has stated that he chose not to seek a license in California and instead act as a consultant. As detailed previously in The Union, Bigelsen surrendered his Arizona license after allegations of Medicare fraud, which were settled for a record low $145 fine. The allegations were based on 28 cases of chelation therapists who were affiliated with Bigelsen's then-clinic and which the Medicare investigators at the time alleged were chosen at random, Bigelsen said. "I always wanted my work to be known, but not for its persecution," said Bigelsen, who has authored several books on what he calls the "anti-medicine" approach to healing. "I'm the lead guy — I've always been at the forefront of the holistic movement." Meanwhile, Markus Keicher of North San Juan, a former patient of Dickter's, said he started the Facebook thread when he heard through word of mouth that Dickter was the complainant against Bigelsen. He said he had a negative experience with the North San Juan dentist about a year ago. He did not file a complaint at the time, he said. Now, however, given the Bigelsen case revelation, he said he felt it was time to take a public stand about it. "Dr. Bigelsen was a true healer, and he's out of business because of this dentist," Keicher said. "It's the saddest story I've ever heard." On Monday, Judge Sloven set a pretrial hearing for Joshua Bigelsen, who is represented by Faust, for Dec. 1. Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Ray DeJesus is representing the county in both Bigelsen cases. To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

Geragos to represent Nevada County holistic physician

Celebrity attorney Mark Geragos, who represented Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, Wynona Ryder and other high-profile national figures and who has been part of numerous landmark legal cases, has agreed to represent Nevada County holistic physician Harvey Bigelsen in a criminal case filed against him on allegations of practicing medicine without a license and related charges. "To me, this is bigger than me, and that's why I wanted a celebrity lawyer," Bigelsen said Monday at his arraignment on the charges in Nevada County Superior Court. "There's a persecution going on of alternative medicine." He said he didn't know Geragos before contacting him, but the attorney, principal of Los Angeles-based Geragos & Geragos, told Bigelsen he was "fascinated" by the case. "We took the case because we felt strongly that Bigelsen is being persecuted for not hewing to the medical establishment," Geragos said in an email. Geragos' associate Setara Qassim, who filled in for Geragos in court on Monday, voiced similar sentiments. "He is innocent; he hasn't done anything wrong," she said. "There are no victims in this case." Bigelsen on Monday pleaded not guilty to the charges, filed by Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Ray DeJesus. His son, Josh Bigelsen, also filed a not guilty plea to similar allegations via his attorney, Elliott Faust of Auburn. Nevada County Superior Court Judge Linda Sloven accepted the pleas and set a pretrial hearing date of 9 a.m. Sept. 15 for both Harvey and Josh Bigelsen. Geragos, who was also famous for representing convicted murderer Scott Peterson and acquitted Whitewater figure Susan McDougal, is expected to be present for the hearing, Bigelsen said. Bigelsen, whose Biological Health Institute clinic in Nevada City was raided and shut down March 20 by investigators for the California Medical Board, maintains he was acting only as a consultant to licensed physicians at the clinic, doing blood sample analyses. He had no patient contact, he said. Former Nevada City Councilwoman Reinette Senum said she attended Monday's arraignment to continue her support of Bigelsen and his family. "This goes beyond the personal case of Harvey and Josh Bigelsen," said Senum, who helped organize a June 22 fundraiser for the Bigelsens at Summer Thymes restaurant in Grass Valley. "This is about the fundamental right to have health freedoms. "If we don't have our health, we have nothing," Senum added. Senum and others have been actively supporting Bigelsen on a Facebook page, "I Stand Behind Dr. B." In addition, the National Health Federation, a health-freedom-focused organization, of which Bigelsen serves as a board member, has mounted a fundraising campaign to support Bigelsen's legal costs, said Katherine A. Carroll, associate editor of the federation's "Health Freedom News." Carroll said federation president and general counsel Scott C. Tips is leading the fundraising efforts. To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

Plea deal cancels trial in Bigelsen case

Nevada County holistic physician Harvey Bigelsen pleaded no contest Friday to using the titles "Dr." or "M.D." in his business letterhead, cards or ads as part of a deal negotiated with Nevada County District Attorney's office, canceling a trial previously set for Feb. 17. "I'm glad it's over," said Bigelsen, 74, whose former Biological Health Institute in Nevada City was raided March 20, 2014, by investigators from the California State Medical Board. "I think the DA realized it was BS." The no-contest plea, not a frank admission of guilt but considered in legal terms the same as a guilty plea, was to one of nine misdemeanor counts filed against Bigelsen in the high-profile yearlong case alleging he practiced medicine without a license. The other eight counts will be dismissed, Deputy District Attorney Ray DeJesus told Nevada County Superior Court Judge Linda Sloven. Two misdemeanor counts against Bigelsen's son, Josh Bigelsen, 41, will also be dropped. Under terms of the plea deal, Bigelsen will serve a two-year probation for the single count, during which time he may not use the titles "Dr." or "M.D." in connection with his business — although he may use those titles in other contexts, such as lecturing, teaching or being an author. During the two years, his business will be subject to search and seizure without notice, under terms of the deal outlined by DeJesus on Friday. "We think it was a very reasonable outcome," said Bigelsen's attorney Setara Qassim, assistant to Southern California celebrity attorney Mark Geragos. "I've been told by the (Nevada County) D.A.'s office that the California Medical Board is not happy with this resolution — they wanted the full prosecution." Sloven set a date for sentencing when the two-year probation period ends on Feb. 14, 2017. Qassim said that if all goes well during the two years, Bigelsen will likely withdraw the plea at that time. If he withdraws the plea, all the charges will be dropped, without any conviction. Bigelsen, who lost his house and filed for bankruptcy in the past year that he was unable to work, also will be required to pay $6,750 in costs for the state and local investigations. "He gets to resume his life," Qassim said. "He won't be on pause anymore." DeJesus also agreed Friday to release Bigelsen's two high-powered microscopes that he uses to analyze live blood samples and offer consultations on the results of the analyses. Qassim said she would make the necessary arrangements to retrieve the microscopes as soon as possible. Bigelsen said Friday he would likely open a "private club" where people can have their blood analyzed and receive his reports. He said he was not sure where or when the club would be opened, although he said he has had some interest from contacts in Mexico. The University of Mexico City has also expressed interest in him doing research there, he said. He and his wife, Judy, said they were grateful for the local support. "This town has been so great," said Bigelsen in offering thanks to the dozens of Nevada County residents who wrote letters to the editor of The Union in support, who attended the multiple court hearings, who posted good wishes on Facebook and who helped raise money for his legal defense. "I want to give some lectures here." About 20 supporters attended the brief hearing Friday, some calling the prosecution a "witch hunt" and a "house of horrors." "I think they knew they really couldn't win," said James Henderson of Grass Valley, referring to the legal case. "He wasn't practicing medicine, he was practicing health." Bigelsen, a trauma surgeon during the Vietnam War, surrendered his medical license decades ago in Arizona in a plea deal, after the medical establishment prosecuted him regarding paperwork coding protocols used by some of Bigelsen's then-clinic associates who were chelation therapists. Bigelsen, who has written numerous books and who is credited with drafting Arizona's first homeopathic medicine licensing law, left the country after that to practice in Mexico. He returned to the U.S. later to open the clinic in Nevada City, where he said he operated as a consultant to licensed naturopathic and osteopathic physicians. "I served my country as a doctor, deciding on life and death and performing 200 surgeries," said Bigelsen, wearing a veterans' baseball cap, of his time in Vietnam. "It's so insulting that I can't be called a doctor." For Nevada City activist Reinette Senum, the prosecution against Bigelsen was "just sabotage." "I've never seen so many letters to the editor (of The Union)," she said. "They came in from all over the country. "People who never even met him said to me, 'From what I can tell, this is a friggin' witch hunt,'" Senum said. Markus Keicher of North San Juan said it was "heartbreaking" that Bigelsen, who he said helped many clients for free, would not be available any more to the community. "(Bigelsen) is one of the best resources for healing anywhere," Keicher said. "Talk about a house of horrors." Josh Bigelsen said he doubted whether he or his parents, who are both "broke" after a year of legal expenses and not being able to work, would stay in California. He said he wondered how much taxpayer money was spent on the case. "They could have just said, 'In California, you're not allowed to use the term 'Doctor,' and we would have said 'OK,'" Josh Bigelsen said. "Instead, they took our house and a year of time and money." Nonetheless, Josh Bigelsen said he didn't want people to feel sorry for him or his parents. "You should feel sorry for the people who can't get what they need," he said. "Our clients are the ones who are really hurting." To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

Witnesses to testify against Nevada County holistic physician

State investigators and public health officials will be called to testify as expert witnesses Thursday in a hearing in the case against Nevada County holistic physician Harvey Bigelsen. "Special investigators from the California Medical Board and from the California Department of Public Health will be testifying," said Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell. "Everybody involved has to testify." The 9 a.m. hearing is on a motion by Bigelsen's attorney Mark Geragos to suppress evidence in the case, including Bigelsen's two high-powered microscopes that he used to analyze samples of live blood cells. Geragos, a prominent Southern California attorney, who has represented Michael Jackson and other major Hollywood luminaries, is expected to make his first appearance in the case Thursday at Nevada County Courthouse. Bigelsen's microscopes were seized March 20 in a raid that shut down Bigelsen's Biological Health Institute clinic in Nevada City. Geragos' motion to suppress asks the court to dismiss the case and return the microscopes to Bigelsen. According to Newell, if the suppression motion is granted, the microscopes and other evidence won't be allowed in the trial and "we'll have to reassess the case as to how we want to proceed," he said. Although Nevada County Superior Court Judge Linda Sloven has presided on several previous pretrial hearings, it was not immediately clear which judge will be hearing the motion to suppress on Thursday. Bigelsen, whose cause has gained support locally on Facebook and nationally through various fundraising efforts, has been charged with nine misdemeanor counts of practicing medicine without a license, advertising as a doctor without a license, mixing homeopathic remedies without a license and related charges. Bigelsen, author of an anti-surgery book, "Doctors Are More Harmful Than Germs (2011)," and other publications, maintains that he was acting as a consultant to licensed physicians and was not treating patients himself. "This date (Thursday) is very important as the judge will decide whether or not we will go to trial, and (whether) the state will continue to spend taxpayers' money to persecute an American hero," said Bigelsen's son, Adam Bigelsen. "It's also ironic that on the week of Veteran's Day, the state is going after Dr. Bigelsen … a Vietnam veteran trauma surgeon. "He fought for his country," Adam Bigelsen said. "Now his country's government is fighting against him." Bigelsen's other son, Josh Bigelsen, was also charged in the raid, but with lesser offenses. Bigelsen, who was previously licensed as a physician but who voluntarily gave up his license in a plea deal some years ago after an alleged Medicare fraud case in Arizona, maintains he has a right to continue to use the title of doctor, as would any retired or nonpracticing physician. Dozens of Bigelsen's patients have claimed that he was the only one who could help them after traditional medicine failed. "We need to allow people like him to help the very ill and to teach others his expertise," said former patient Heidi Carabine of Austin, Texas, in an "Other Voices" essay that will appear Thursday in The Union. "It is a shame that we disgrace those that truly help others into healing." In September, it was revealed that the complainant in Bigelsen's case was a North San Juan dentist, Robert Dickter, who had never been a patient of Bigelsen's and whom Bigelsen said he had never met. Dickter could not be reached for comment as to the basis for his complaint. To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

Bigelsen dedicated his life to help the suffering

In regards to the Dr. Bigelsen case, I was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident and diagnosed to never walk again. I regained my mobility through hard work and determination; however, I was in deplorable physical condition. Once I began working with Dr. Bigelsen's clinic, my strength, endurance and mental well-being were restored beyond my wildest expectations, far exceeding any approaches that conventional medicine had to offer. After two years of working with Dr. Bigelsen, I was able to leg press over 500 pounds. Words fail to convey the gratitude I have for Dr. Bigelsen. In my personal experience, I have witnessed many others suffering illnesses and injuries who have been successfully treated under Dr. Bigelsen's guidance. Our community has lost access to a great homeopathic resource and hero who has dedicated his life to helping the suffering, ill and injured. The complainant in this case, Robert Dickter, was never a patient of Dr. Bigelsen's office and has not made a statement to The Union after several requests. I was also a patient of Robert Dickter and the treatment I received from him was an absolute horrific experience, which left me physically and mentally wounded. Robert Dickter should be the one being prosecuted. Markus Keicher North San Juan

Judge sets case of Nevada County holistic physician for trial

A Nevada County judge on Tuesday denied a defense motion to suppress evidence in the case of holistic physician Harvey Bigelsen, setting the matter up for a three-day jury trial starting Jan. 27. "Given the pervasive regulation of the medical industry, the presumption of knowledge and defendant's particular familiarity with the medical practice, there can be no legitimate claim that defendant was unaware that his industry is one heavily regulated and subject to warrantless administrative searches," said the opinion issued by Superior Court Judge Candace Heidelberger. She was referring to a March 20 raid on Bigelsen's Biological Health Institute in Nevada City, shutting the clinic down and confiscating two high-powered microscopes that Bigelsen had used to examine live blood cells. Bigelsen's attorney, Mark Geragos, had argued that the state investigators lacked a search warrant in the raid and lacked authority for a March 4 undercover sting operation where a state investigator wearing a hidden video camera posed as a patient at Bigelsen's clinic. Geragos said he was prepared to take the case to trial. Bigelsen is facing charges of nine misdemeanor counts of practicing medicine without a license and related offenses. He has maintained he was not practicing medicine in that he acted as a consultant to examine blood samples. "I feel strongly about this," said Geragos, a Southern California celebrity lawyer who acknowledged he was "certainly not charging what I normally charge" to take the case. "It's obvious from all the community support that this is a case of government run amok." He said he will file a motion in time for a Jan. 16 trial readiness hearing to request the return of Bigelsen's two microscopes. Surrounded by about 60 supporters after the hearing Tuesday morning at Nevada County Courthouse in Nevada City and wearing his Vietnam veteran's cap, Bigelsen said he was stunned and dismayed. "I served my country; I saved 200 lives," said Bigelsen, 74, a trauma surgeon during the Vietnam War. "This is stupid." Community members were outraged. "This is a modern-day witch hunt," said Nevada City activist Reinette Senum. "I'm seeing criminals who are running meth labs and killing people still out in the streets," she said. "And here's one person who's actually healing people, and they're taking him down." However, Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell said Heidelberger's decision reflected case law in terms of whether the March 20 raid and the March 4 undercover sting were legal. "The judge followed the law," Newell said. "Given that she took the case under submission means she did her research." Heidelberger, in her ruling, said the March 4 undercover sting "did not constitute a search under the 4th Amendment," citing an earlier case of Maryland v. Macon . "The Supreme Court has held that no search takes place and the 4th Amendment is not implicated, when an undercover agent merely accepts an offer to do business made to the public." She said the authority to record the conversation was granted by Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson. As to the March 20 raid, Heidelberger said it was a "warrantless search … (that) fell within the administrative search exception." She also cited an earlier case, New York v. Burger , that held that "the potential for discovery of criminal activity during such an administrative search does not invalidate an otherwise lawful search." If convicted at trial, Bigelsen could face a maximum misdemeanor sentence of six months in jail and a fine. However, Newell said he did not think jail time was a likely outcome. "My office is not looking to lock Mr. Bigelsen up," Newell said. "We're simply holding him accountable." He said his office had earlier offered a plea deal, but it was declined. Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Ray DeJesus is assigned to the case. "We are offering a resolution to the case," Newell said. "It's up to them to decide whether to take it." He declined to reveal any details of the proposed resolution, which he said was "between attorneys." At Tuesday's hearing, Geragos told Heidelberger there were no active talks in progress on a plea deal. "We're going to trial," he said. Bigelsen's son Adam Bigelsen, a Truckee-based college professor and music teacher, said his father was a victim of injustice. "He doesn't deserve this; he hasn't earned this," Adam Bigelsen said. "It's a horrible thing to have to go through," he said. "To believe in things like justice and to not see justice served." Adam Bigelsen said his father, one of an estimated three physicians in the country to employ the live blood cell technique called hemobiographic analysis, is sought after by practitioners globally. "The rest of the world wants this knowledge," he said. "People come here from places like Croatia, Tasmania and Trinidad to study with him." Rudi Leonardi of Mill Valley said he drove three hours to attend Tuesday's hearing, which lasted about 15 minutes. "We have to preserve our choices," Leonardi said. "Alternative practitioners have to be able to protect their business models and not be threatened." Leonardi said he wants to maintain the culture's "organic right to choice to select the people we want to be our practitioners," adding, "It's a fundamental right of who we are as a country." Reno-based osteopathic physician David Holt, a homeopath, said he traveled to Nevada City for Tuesday's hearing to support Bigelsen. He noted that Bigelsen, while practicing as a physician in Arizona, authored the country's first homeopathic medical doctor licensing law, which requires that a homeopathic physician first be an M.D. or an osteopath. "He founded the homeopathic medical doctor degree in the U.S.," Holt said. "He's the reason I practice the way I do." (NOTE: Senum is a member of The Union's Editorial Board). To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.