In an impressive game of political dominoes, days after a Florida man wrote a letter to President Donald Trump peddling chlorine dioxide — an industrial bleach — as a cure for COVID-19, the president went on television to muse about the efficacy of ingesting disinfectant to rid the body of the coronavirus.
Mark Grenon, who runs the Genesis II Church of Health & Healing, has been the subject of a federal probe since April. Now, he and his sons have been charged in Miami federal court with selling bleach as a fake miracle cure for COVID-19, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Florida. Genesis operates out of Bradenton and does business in South Florida.
A criminal complaint alleges that Grenon and his sons Joseph, Jordan, and Jonathan Grenon have been selling Miracle Mineral Solution, known as MMS, and claiming that ingesting the bleach product will cure, treat, or prevent COVID-19 and other conditions, such as Alzheimer's, autism, brain cancer, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration hasn't approved MMS for COVID-19 treatment and has issued previous warnings to consumers against buying or using the product.
The Grenons face charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to violate the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and criminal contempt.
In April, U.S. District Judge Kathleen M. Williams approved a temporary restraining order against the Grenons and the church, barring them from labeling, holding, and distributing MMS. Those restrictions were upheld by an injunction Williams approved in May.
The injunction says the Grenons were violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by distributing unapproved new drugs with false labeling and engaging in interstate commerce of unapproved drugs.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
In a podcast conversation between Mark Grenon and one of his sons, Mark Grenon said they "backed down" and stopped production and manufacturing of MMS.
But court records say the Grenons violated the court's order by using "alternate Genesis channels" to continue distributing MMS.
In letters to the judge and prosecutors as well as church videos and podcasts, the Grenons repeatedly said they wouldn't obey the judge and claimed the injunction violates their First Amendment rights.
Court records say that the Grenons' MMS websites made $578,506 from credit card transactions between April 1, 2019, and April 24, 2020, including more than $6,000 in credit card sales in the week after a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order against the church and the Grenons.