Skip to main content
Press Release

Spearfish Man Sentenced For Mail Fraud And Misbranding Of A Drug

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Dakota

United States Attorney Brendan V. Johnson announced that a Spearfish, South Dakota, man convicted of Mail Fraud and Misbranding of a Drug was sentenced on November 25, 2013, by Chief Judge Jeffrey L. Viken, U.S. District Court.

John Martin, age 74, was sentenced to 9 years in custody, 3 years of supervised release, a $125 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund, and restitution of at least $209,300.  The court deferred a final determination on restitution until a later date.

Martin was indicted for Mail Fraud and Misbranding of a Drug by a federal grand jury on March 20, 2012.  He pled guilty on May 9, 2013.
Between February 27, 2007, and December 31, 2011, Martin, who is not a physician, fraudulently claimed he could treat and cure cancer and other diseases.  Martin instructed individuals who contacted him to send samples of bodily fluids and hair, along with money, to him in Spearfish.  In one instance, he instructed a person to send money and samples of blood, saliva, and hair so that he could test the samples for cancer.  Martin then informed the individual of the presence of colon cancer, and that the individual needed to travel to Spearfish for treatment.  Martin charged the individual for treatment, prescribed herbal supplements, and later informed the individual that the cancer was cured.   

Additionally, in April 2011, Martin directed a person to take herbal supplement pills, which Martin provided, as a treatment for cancer.  Martin fraudulently informed that person that he had liver cancer and prescribed 96 herbal supplements to treat the cancer, which caused the supplements to become “drugs” under federal law.  The supplements lacked labeling bearing adequate directions for use in the treatment of cancer.

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-Office of Criminal Investigations, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, the Spearfish Police Department, the Belle Fourche Police Department, and the Butte County Sheriff's Office.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Kelderman.
Martin was immediately turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.

Updated June 22, 2015