MIAMI – leaders of a company disguised as a church sold a toxic bleach solution as a religious sacrament and marketed it as a "miracle cure" for Covid-19, cancer, autism, Alzheimer's and more, according to federal prosecutors.
A federal grand jury in Miami has indicted Mark Grenon, 62, and his three sons, Jonathan Grenon, 34. Jordan Grenon, 26; and Joseph Grenon, 32; All Bradenton, Florida prosecutors said Friday that they had violated court orders, fraudulently manufacturing and selling more than $ 1 million of their "Miracle Mineral Solution," a dangerous industrial bleaching solution.
The solution contains sodium chlorite and water. When taken orally, it turns into chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleaching agent used in industrial water treatment and in the bleaching of textiles, pulp, or paper, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the southern district of Florida.
The Federal Food and Drug Administration warned last year that the product the men were accused of being marketed by the Genesis II Church for Health and Healing was "unproven and potentially harmful."
"Despite an earlier warning, the Genesis II Church of Healing has continued to actively harm consumers by selling potentially dangerous and unapproved chlorine dioxide products," said Stephen M. Hahn last year when he addressed the F.D.A. Commissioner.
Using a book, radio station and newsletter, the Grenons cited Bible verses to market the solution to vulnerable consumers, prosecutors said. It was unclear whether someone got sick or died from taking the product they were promoting.
In documents from a civil case last year, a program analyst at the F.D.A. said she ordered the bleach and had it shipped to her. Prosecutors said they found the solution was being made in a shed in Jonathan Grenon's backyard.
Officials confiscated dozens of blue chemical barrels containing nearly 10,000 pounds of sodium chlorite powder, which could produce thousands of bottles of the solution, federal prosecutors said. Loaded firearms were also recovered, including a pump-action shotgun hidden in a custom-made violin case.
The Grenons were each charged with conspiracy, fraud and criminal contempt. If convicted, they could have a life in prison, federal prosecutors said.
The church has labeled itself on its websites as a "non-religious church", according to the federal prosecutor.
Mark Grenon, described as the archbishop and founder, has also repeatedly said that the church "has nothing to do with religion" and that he founded the institution to legalize the use of bleach solution and avoid imprisonment, according to the Public prosecutor .
The church has been promoting the bleach solution for years.
Jim Humble, a church founder and former Scientologist, has claimed he was a billion year old god from the Andromeda galaxy. Mr Humble, who was not charged in the Grenons case, said he asked to be "transferred to the part of the space navy that watches over the earth," according to an ABC7 investigation in Los Angeles last year.
Jonathan Grenon and Jordan Grenon were arrested last summer following a complaint from the Miami federal prosecutor's office on charges. They have been arrested since their arrest on the basis of a decision by a judge that they pose a risk of not appearing in future legal proceedings and were considered a threat to the community.
Mark Grenon and Joseph Grenon are currently in Colombia, prosecutors said. The inaccessible Grenons have previously represented themselves in court.
The federal prosecutors believe that Mark Grenon and Joseph Grenon operate a so-called "health restoration center" in Santa Marta, Colombia, where they bill consumers about $ 5,000 a month to stay on the premises and "with Miracle Mineral Solution to Dose “Show.
Federal prosecutors brought the Grenons charges of criminal contempt, accusing them of deliberately violating court orders in a separate civil court trial last year that ordered the family to stop disseminating the solution.
Prosecutors said the Grenons had also threatened a federal judge who is running the civil case, saying that if the government stopped distributing the solution, they would "pick up arms" and instigate "a Waco," an indication of a deadly siege Federal agents in 1993 affiliated the religious sect in Texas.
This case is one of several cases prosecuted in connection with an exposed bleaching cure. In 2015, a Spokane, Washington, bleach solution seller was sentenced to more than four years in prison.
"I can tell you that the Department of Justice takes the distribution of Miracle Mineral Solution and all chlorine dioxide products extremely seriously," said Michael B. Homer, US assistant attorney for the southern district of Florida.