(CMR) A Miami federal jury convicted a father and his three sons for selling a toxic bleach solution as a “miracle” medical cure on a fake Florida church’s website to thousands of consumers across the United States.
Mark Grenon (65) and his sons Jonathan (37), Joseph (35), and Jordan (29) chose to represent themselves in their two-day trial in Miami federal court. According to the Miami Herald, the father and sons said nothing during the trial, as if silently protesting the proceeding. However, after hearing the verdict, one of the Grenons speaks up.
“We will be appealing,” Joseph Grenon said.
Prosecutors said the four defendants from Bradenton were con men who used a phony religious front on a website, the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, to sell $1 million worth of their “Miracle Mineral Solution” in video pitches as a cure for 95% of the world’s known diseases, from AIDS to the coronavirus, the Miami Herald reported.
“This whole Miracle Mineral Solution scheme was built on deception and dishonesty,” prosecutor John Shipley said, telling jurors that the Grenons “created a fake church to make it harder for the Food and Drug Administration and government to stop them from selling snake oil.”
According to the Miami Herald, they were found guilty of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government and FDA, which regulates the food and drug industry, by distributing an unapproved and misbranded drug, Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS). That conviction carries up to five years in prison.
The jury found Jonathan and Gordon Grenon guilty of two counts of violating federal court orders requiring them to stop selling MMS in 2020. Those counts carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. The same contempt charges were dismissed against the father, Mark, and third brother, Joseph.
The Grenons’ criminal case was the first pandemic-related enforcement action in Florida. In public warnings, FDA said it received several reports of hospitalizations and life-threatening conditions as people drank the dangerous substance.
MMS is a chemical solution containing sodium chlorite that, when mixed with water and a citric acid “activator,” turns into chlorine dioxide, a potent bleach typically used for industrial water treatment or bleaching textiles, pulp, and paper.
During the trial, an Food and Drug Administration agent testified about three Grenon-produced videos that pitched the solution as a cure for cancer, lung cancer, and COVID-19, among other deadly diseases.
“We are trying to create a world without disease,” Mark Grenon said in one video, pitching the MMS substance. “It’s been proven to be tremendously effective in curing cancer.”
To bolster investigations, the FDA agent used a fake name to order multiple bottles of the Grenons’ MMS product through their website at $15, $20, and $30 each. They were shipped to addresses in Florida and Georgia.
In one instance, the court heard that the agent complained that his fictional wife, portrayed as battling cancer, did not improve after taking the substance for three weeks. The agent testified that he received an email from one of Grenon’s sons saying that she would have to use it for longer to be effective.
The sentencing hearing for the father and three sons was scheduled for October 6.