A Florida father and his three adult sons have been found guilty on all counts after falsely claiming that a toxic industrial bleach they sold as a “miracle drug” through their fake church could cure HIV, autism, cancer, COVID-19 . and other serious illnesses.
A Miami jury took just 30 minutes on Wednesday to return guilty verdicts for the so-called “Church of Bleach” family, according to the Miami Herald. The trial started on Monday.
The 12-member jury found Mark Grenon, 65, and his sons Jonathan, 37, Joseph, 35, and Jordan, 29, all guilty of conspiracy to defraud the United States by distributing an unapproved and unbranded drug. The drug in question is the “Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS)”, which is consumed as chlorine dioxide, an industrial bleach used for bleaching paper products. The conviction carries a prison sentence of up to five years.
In addition, Jordan and Jonathan Grenon were found guilty of two counts of criminal contempt for violating federal court orders to stop selling MMS in 2020, which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Similar contempt charges were dropped for Mark and his remaining son Joseph, who fled to Colombia in 2020 after charges were brought against them. The charges were dropped in 2022 as part of an extradition deal, according to the Herald, which stated they would only be charged with conspiracy to commit fraud.
At trial, federal prosecutors described the family as “con artists” and “snake oil salesmen” who attempted to circumvent federal laws by selling their dangerous MMS product through a non-religious “church” called the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing . , based in Bradenton, Florida. They called themselves “bishops” and sold MMS as a “sacrament” in exchange for a “donation” to the church. All the while, the family claimed their toxic solution could treat a variety of serious conditions, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, autism, malaria, hepatitis, Parkinson’s, herpes, HIV/AIDS and COVID-19, according to the indictment.
In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration warned the public about MMS, saying it had received reports of people suffering life-threatening conditions after drinking the toxic liquid. In 2020, the agency finally got court orders to force them to stop selling MMS, though the family ignored the orders prior to their arrests.
Prosecutors alleged that the family made more than $1 million selling tens of thousands of bottles of MMS, which they began in 2010.
Concluding this week’s trial, federal prosecutor John Shipley argued to the jury that “you can’t go out and set up a fake church and break the law.”
Similarly, U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga told jurors Wednesday that your Grenons could not use the First Amendment, specifically religious liberty, as a defense for selling MMS because their church was not a true religious entity. As Ars previously reported, the now-defunct Genesis website called their organization “a non-religious church” that was “established to serve humanity and not to worship.”
The Grenons represented themselves for their short trial this week, but did not speak during the proceedings, apparently as a form of protest. Only after the guilty verdict was read did one of the Grenons – Joseph, speak, saying, “We will appeal.”
Their sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 6.