Former Naturopath charged criminally for trafficking in misbranded drugs claiming they could prevent COVID-19
Port Angeles Naturopath lost his Washington State license in 2018
Tacoma - A former Port Angeles, Washington, naturopathic physician was charged today with a federal felony related to his attempts to promote a misbranded drug as a prevention for COVID-19, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. RICHARD MARSCHALL, 67, is scheduled to make his initial appearance via teleconference in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on May 12, 2020, on a charge of Introduction of Misbranded Drugs into Interstate Commerce.
“At a time when scientists are scrambling to identify COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, it is unconscionable and cruel to take people’s money for false hope and promises of a cure,” said U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. “This defendant knew better than to be peddling misbranded drugs. Fortunately, the community quickly notified law enforcement when they saw he had launched this scheme with a COVID-19 twist.”
According to the criminal complaint, on March 26, 2020, Food and Drug Administration criminal investigators began reviewing complaints from the public regarding postings on Facebook and a website linked to MARSCHALL that claimed the “Dynamic Duo” of substances could kill viruses, including the coronavirus. MARSCHALL billed himself as a “Health Coach” and retired naturopath. Various posts promote two substances that can “stop” coronavirus.
On March 30, 2020, an FDA investigator spoke to MARSCHALL on the telephone in an undercover capacity. MARSCHALL represented to the investigator that one of the substances “doesn’t boost the immune system, it just kills the virus.” MARSCHALL represented that the second substance would boost the production of white blood cells that attack infections. The undercover agent ultimately ordered the “Dynamic Duo” for $140 plus shipping.
The substances were received by FDA investigators in early April, along with documents. A review showed they were manufactured in facilities in Illinois and Texas. The original labeling for the substances does not claim to kill viruses, but still MARSCHALL included documents that stated the substances can “crush …. viral infections including those in the Corona family, like in China Corona-19.”
“Making claims that unproven drugs can prevent or treat COVID-19 causes more harm than good. Fraudulent products making false claims can be dangerous,” said Lisa L. Malinowski, FDA Office of Criminal Investigations Los Angeles Field Office. “We will investigate and bring to justice those who try to profit from the pandemic by offering unproven and illegally marketed coronavirus drugs.”
The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
In 2011 and again in 2017, MARSCHALL was convicted and sentenced in federal court for distributing misbranded drugs. Due to these prior convictions, MARSCHALL faces increased penalties for introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce -- up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine. In 2018, the Washington State Department of Health permanently revoked his credential to practice as a naturopath.
The case is being investigated by the FDA Office of Criminal Investigation (FDA-OCI). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Brian Werner who serves as the COVID-19 Fraud Coordinator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.