A Florida man and his three adult sons will serve multiple years in prison after selling a toxic, industrial bleach as a “miracle” treatment and cure for COVID-19, a federal judge ruled Friday.
Mark Grenon, 66, and his son, Joseph Grenon, 36, were sentenced to five years in prison for conspiring to defraud the government. They will both also have three years of supervised release, court records show.
The two remaining sons, Jonathan Grenon, 37, and Jordan Grenon, 29, were sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for defrauding the government and contempt of court. Their sentences also include three years of supervised release.
The men peddled tens of thousands of bottles of their homemade sodium chlorite product called Miracle Mineral Solution, or MMS, while falsely claiming that drinking it could cure numerous, serious ailments, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida said in a statement Friday.
The substance becomes chlorine dioxide when ingested and can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure and death. Hospitalizations, life-threatening conditions and death have been reported after drinking it, the Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly warned.
Despite there being no supporting medical evidence for consuming the solution, the family raked in more than $1 million by selling the product that was made in Jonathan Grenon’s backyard in Bradenton, south of Tampa, and sold nationwide through the so-called Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, prosecutors said.
This organization is billed online as a non-religious church where people can obtain MMS through financial “donations.” It operated this way to avoid government regulation and potential criminal prosecution, prosecutors said, while citing past admissions made by Mark Grenon about the family’s money-making scheme.
The men identified themselves as bishops of the church, and in a letter sent to U.S. prosecutors in early 2020, they defended their business dealings as protected under its “first amendment religious rights … as a sovereign free church.”
They were criminally charged by prosecutors in Florida four months later, and Mark Grenon and Joseph Grenon were arrested in Colombia shortly after.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Genesis church, which was founded by MMS’s alleged discoverer Jim Humble, also pushed MMS as a cure for cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, autism, malaria, hepatitis, Parkinson’s, herpes, HIV/AIDS, and other serious medical conditions.
An investigation by NBC in 2019 found that parents were force-feeding their children the toxic liquid as a hopeful autism cure. Parents described their children as “gasping,” spitting and screaming in response to having to drink it.
Books on how to use the bleach solution to cure autism were later removed for purchase from Amazon.
Humble, a former Scientologist and self-appointed archbishop of the Genesis church who claimed to have discovered MMS while mining gold in South America, was last tracked down as living in Mexico by ABC News. His website announced last month that he died at the age of 90.
The Grenon family was listed as representing themselves in court, without an attorney, at the time of their sentencing.