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McKINNEY A Plano man accused of practicing dentistry without a license is comparing his work to the help Jesus provided for the poor. Jose Santiago Delao says most of his patients, who are undocumented citizens, had nowhere else to go.

"Jesus Christ is my best lawyer," said Delao. "He will save me."

Delao says he worked on patients for two years out of his Plano house, pulling teeth, inserting fillings, making dentures and cleanings.

"I knew it was a great risk," said Delao. "I understand that because it s against the law."

Plano Police arrested Delao last month and seized all his equipment after a woman told officers she felt uncomfortable when she realized she wasn't in a proper dental facility. According to court documents, Delao wouldn't allow her to leave, stating she had cost already cost him time and money.

"According to my experience, I should not have done anything on her mouth, because it was wisdom teeth," said Delao.

Delao has a four year degree from Costa Rica as a Dental Lab Technician. He said he read books and took courses so he could help Collin County's needy, who could not afford dental care.

"It's sad when you see people crying because they are in pain," said Delao. "I have the experience, I have the skills, I have confidence to help human beings."

The Children and Community Health Clinic in McKinney provides basic health care to the needy. Executive Director Sandy Dickey says while practicing without a license is "dangerous", she understands why someone would go for treatment when they're desperate.

"If someone really needs that tooth taken out, all we can say is we're sorry," said Dickey. "We don't have anywhere to send you."

Delao, charged with a felony, says he'd like to go back to his native Costa Rica and practice dentistry there.

"I'm not a criminal," he said. "I'm just a human being with a good heart to help my community."

Delao remains in custody at the Collin County Jail on $60,000 bond.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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