A “Miracle Mineral Supplement” sold online by a Spokane, WA, man as a cure for cancer, AIDS, hepatitis, Lyme disease, asthma, autism, malaria, and the common cold actually contained an industrial-strength sodium chlorite more appropriately used as a pesticide, or for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and wastewater treatment.
In a week-long June jury trial, 45-year-old Louis Daniel Smith was found guilty on five of six federal felony counts brought against him after nearly a decade-long investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Office of Criminal Investigation (OCI).
On Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015, Smith was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson for the Eastern District of Washington. The sentence is to be followed by three years of supervised release.
Smith represented himself during the federal court proceedings.
“Today’s sentence is a just result reflecting the defendant’s role as the leader of a business that sold dangerous chemicals as miracle cures to sick people and their desperate loved ones,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Consumers have the right to expect that the medicines that they purchase are safe and effective.”
An eastern Washington jury convicted Smith on conspiracy with intent to defraud the United States, along with three counts of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead, and one count of fraudulently smuggling merchandise into the U.S. The smuggled merchandise was barrels of sodium chlorite, which was the main ingredient in his “Miracle Mineral Supplement,” which sold for $9.95 per bottle.
Evidence presented at the trial showed that Smith operated an online business from 2007-2011 called “Project GreenLife” (PGL) selling sodium chlorite to be mixed with water. Sodium chlorite cannot legally be sold for human consumption, and suppliers of the chemical include a warning sheet stating that it can cause potentially fatal side effects if swallowed.
The government presented evidence that Smith instructed consumers to combine MMS with citric acid to create chlorine dioxide, add water, and drink the resulting mixture. Chlorine dioxide is a potent agent used to bleach textiles, among other industrial applications. Chlorine dioxide is also a severe respiratory and eye irritant that can cause nausea, diarrhea and dehydration.
Smith provided instructions for use of his product, including statements that nausea, diarrhea and vomiting were all signs that the miracle cure was working. The instructions also stated that despite a risk of possible brain damage, the product might still be appropriate for pregnant women or infants who were seriously ill.
According to the trial evidence, Smith created phony “water purification” and “wastewater treatment” businesses in order to obtain sodium chlorite and ship his MMS without being detected by FDA or U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The government also presented evidence that Smith hid evidence from FDA inspectors and destroyed evidence while law enforcement agents were executing search warrants.
Before trial, three of Smith’s alleged co-conspirators, Chris Olson, Tammy Olson and Karis DeLong (Smith’s wife), pleaded guilty to introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. Chris Olson, along with alleged co-conspirators Matthew Darjanny and Joseph Lachnit, testified at trial that Smith was the leader of PGL.
In addition to OCI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service assisted in the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Christopher E. Parisi and Timothy T. Finley of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Division Consumer Protection Branch in Washington, D.C.
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