Florida Men Indicted for Selling Bleach as 'Miracle' COVID-19 Cure

Florida Men COVID-19 Bleach MMS Quack Indictment
A man splashes liquid from a Clorox bleach bottle labeled "COVID CURE" on his face during a demonstration against COVID-19 public health restrictions in San Diego, California on May 1, 2020. SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty

A 62-year-old Florida man and his three adult sons have been indicted for allegedly selling and marketing bleach as a "miracle" cure for COVID-19 and other ailments.

Mark Grenon was indicted by a federal grand jury in Miami on Friday, alongside his sons Jonathan Grenon, 34, Joseph Grenon, 32, and Jordan Grenon, 26, according to a news release from the Department of Justice. The men claimed that their "Miracle Mineral Solution" (MMS), which contains harmful industrial bleach, was a cure for COVID-19, cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and other serious illnesses.

The Grenons sold the bleach for many years before the emergence of COVID-19, operating as the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, a self-described "non-religious church." Court documents allege that the Grenons made over $1 million selling the fraudulent cure through the so-called church, which Mark Grenon admitted had been "nothing to do with religion" and had been formed in an attempt to "legalize the use of MMS."

In 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning against using MMS, noting that consuming the "dangerous" substance was the same as "drinking bleach" and that there was no evidence that it was effective in treating any illness. The FDA said that for those who used the solution, there were reports of liver failure, severe vomiting, severe diarrhea and life-threatening low blood pressure.

Friday's indictment happened on the one-year anniversary of former President Donald Trump suggesting that injecting "disinfectant" could be useful as a treatment for COVID-19 during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House. After receiving widespread backlash for his comments, Trump later claimed that they were made "sarcastically."

Mark Grenon claimed that he sent Trump a letter promoting MMS only days before the former president made the remarks, although it is not clear that Trump read or even received the letter. Regardless, Grenon claimed victory in a Facebook post made the day after Trump's remarks.

"Trump has got the MMS and all the info!!! Things are happening folks!" Grenon wrote on April 24. "Lord help others to see the Truth!"

Grenon and his sons were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and two counts of criminal contempt. In addition, they were charged with criminal contempt for refusing to comply with a court order to stop selling MMS, an order issued as part of a civil case previously filed against the family.

The family allegedly threatened a federal judge that they would "pick up a gun" and start "a Waco" if attempts were made to enforce the order. While executing a search warrant, authorities discovered that Jonathan Grenon's backyard shed was being used to manufacture MMS despite the order. They also found multiple loaded weapons, some meticulously hidden.

Mark and Joseph Grenon are currently jailed in Colombia, with extradition back to the U.S. likely, while Jordan and Jonathan are in U.S. custody after being arrested last summer on related charges. If convicted on all charges, the men could face life in prison.

Last week, The Guardian reported that an unrelated Florida company dubbed Oclo Nanotechnology Science was selling a "miracle cure" for new variants of COVID-19 that is composed of the same toxic chemical. The company's website was offline as of Friday night, although a related Facebook post promoting the bleach remained up and an Amazon listing for the "currently unavailable" product was also still online.