A Florida man and his three adult sons have been indicted on federal charges for allegedly selling a bleach solution as a purported cure for COVID-19, among other ailments.
Mark Grenon and sons Jonathan, Jordan and Joseph Grenon are accused of peddling a toxic substance known as “Miracle Mineral Solution,” or “MMS,” through the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing in Bradenton, Florida.
The four men, who were initially charged in July 2020, were indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday on one count each of conspiracy to commit fraud and two counts each of criminal contempt, The Associated Press reported. The charges stem from allegations that the Grenons sell MMS as a cure-all for illnesses ranging from cancer to AIDS to COVID-19. Prosecutors said the Grenons have made more than $1 million selling the product, according to the Bradenton Herald.
MMS, which is also sometimes called Miracle Mineral Supplement or Master Mineral Solution, is a pseudoscientific remedy typically sold as a solution of sodium chlorite and would-be consumers are instructed to mix it with acid. This creates chlorine dioxide, which the Food and Drug Administration has described as a “powerful bleaching agent.” (Although chlorine dioxide can be used in professional water treatment, the maximum amount allowed in drinking water by the Environmental Protection Agency is extremely small: 0.8 parts per million.)
⚠️ Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) does not cure #COVID19 and has not been approved by the FDA for any use. The solution, when mixed, develops into a dangerous bleach which has caused serious and potentially life-threatening side effects. Learn more: https://t.co/z8jU8OHTbD. pic.twitter.com/bBfG0cYJpB
— FDA Drug Information (@FDA_Drug_Info) February 18, 2020
The substance is fraudulently touted as treatment for myriad conditions, with one especially dangerous usage involving parents of children with autism giving it to their kids in an attempt to “cure” them. According to Vice News, MMS was invented by a former scientologist Jim Humble, who founded the church where Mark Grenon is an “archbishop.”
Prosecutors allege that characterizing the organization as a “church” is just an attempt to skirt federal regulations.
Humble claims to be a billion-year-old god from the Andromeda Galaxy, according to local news station ABC 7.
President Donald Trump publicly speculated last year about whether “disinfectant” could cure COVID-19 in the body — which he later said was a joke — and Grenon appeared to capitalize on the moment, The Washington Post reported last summer.
“Trump has got the MMS and all the info!!! Things are happening folks!” Grenon wrote on Facebook, linking to Trump’s remarks. “Lord help others to see the Truth!”
On Saturday, days after the indictment was handed out, Mark Grenon was touting MMS on Facebook, imploring those who were skeptical to “Open your eyes!”
While MMS has made recent headlines as a fake and dangerous treatment for coronavirus, the FDA has been warning people about the product for years.
“The FDA recently received new reports of people experiencing severe vomiting, severe diarrhea, life-threatening low blood pressure caused by dehydration and acute liver failure after drinking these products,” a 2019 release read. “The FDA is not aware of any scientific evidence supporting the safety or effectiveness of MMS products, despite claims that the solution is an antimicrobial, antiviral and antibacterial.”
Putting it more bluntly, the FDA said, “MMS Consumers are drinking bleach.”
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