Readout of Justice Department Officials' Trip to Ghana and Togo to Advance West Africa Consumer Fraud Initiative
A Spokane, Washington, man was sentenced last night to more than four years in federal prison for selling industrial bleach as a miracle cure for numerous diseases and illnesses, including cancer, AIDS, malaria, hepatitis, Lyme disease, asthma and the common cold, the Department of Justice announced today.
Louis Daniel Smith, 45, was sentenced by Chief Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson of the Eastern District of Washington to serve 51 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.
After a seven-day trial in June, a jury convicted Smith of one count of conspiracy to commit multiple crimes, three counts of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead and one count of fraudulently smuggling merchandise into the United States. Evidence at trial showed that Smith operated a business called “Project GreenLife” (PGL) from 2007 to 2011. PGL sold a product called “Miracle Mineral Supplement,” or MMS, over the Internet. MMS is a mixture of sodium chlorite and water. Sodium chlorite is an industrial chemical used as a pesticide, for hydraulic fracturing and for wastewater treatment. Sodium chlorite cannot 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.
“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.”
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 a severe respiratory and eye irritant that can cause nausea, diarrhea and dehydration. Smith provided instructions for use of his product including 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 evidence presented at trial, Smith created phony “water purification” and “wastewater treatment” businesses in order to obtain sodium chlorite and ship his MMS without being detected by the Food and Drug Administration (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.
The case was investigated by agents of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The case was prosecuted by Christopher E. Parisi and Timothy T. Finley of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch in Washington, D.C.