It took only 30 minutes on Wednesday for a Miami federal jury to convict a father and his three sons of selling a toxic bleach solution as a “miracle” medical cure out of a fake Florida church’s website to thousands of consumers across the country.
Mark Grenon, 65, and sons Jonathan, 37, Joseph, 35, and Jordan, 29, chose to represent themselves in their two-day trial in Miami federal court. But they said nothing during the trial, as if they were silently protesting the proceeding.
Only after the 12-person jury hit them with a quick verdict did one of the Grenons speak up. “We will be appealing,” Joseph Grenon said.
During the trial and closing arguments, prosecutors had a lot to say about the four defendants from Bradenton, portraying them as con men who used a phony religious front on a website, the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, to sell $1 million worth of their “Miracle Mineral Solution” in video pitches as a cure for 95% of the world’s known diseases, from AIDS to the coronavirus.
“This whole Miracle Mineral Solution scheme was built on deception and dishonesty,” prosecutor John Shipley said during his closing argument, telling jurors that the Grenons “created a fake church to make it harder for the Food and Drug Administration and government to stop them from selling snake oil.”
But, “this was no church,” he argued. “This was a scam for money — an old-fashioned scam.”
The jury found the four defendants — all wearing beige inmate uniforms, pony tails and flowing beards — guilty of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government and FDA, which regulates the food and drug industry, by distributing an unapproved and misbranded drug, Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS). That conviction carries up to five years in prison.
Additionally, the jury found two of the Grenons — Jonathan and Gordon — guilty of two counts of violating federal court orders requiring them to stop selling MMS in 2020. Those counts carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.
The same contempt charges were dismissed against the father, Mark, and third brother, Joseph. When they were extradited from Colombia in 2022, the Bogota government turned over both defendants to U.S. authorities on the condition that they would only be charged with the conspiracy count, not the contempt charges.
The sentencing hearing for the Father and three sons was scheduled for Oct. 6.
During the trial, Shipley and fellow prosecutor Michael Homer said the Grenons called themselves “bishops” and peddled MMS as “sacraments” to consumers in South Florida and other parts of the United States in exchange for a “donation” to the Genesis church, before the Food and Drug Administration cracked down on the family in 2020.
The Grenons were charged that April with conspiring to defraud the U.S. government after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic when they defied FDA and court orders to stop distributing the toxic MMS substance. Their criminal case was the first pandemic-related enforcement action in Florida. In public warnings, FDA said it received several reports of hospitalizations and life-threatening conditions as people drank the dangerous substance.
MMS is a chemical solution containing sodium chlorite that, when mixed with water and a citric acid “activator,” turns into chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleach typically used for industrial water treatment or bleaching textiles, pulp and paper.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga gave an instruction to jurors that the Grenons could not use the First Amendment, specifically religious freedom, as a defense for selling the dangerous product because their so-called church was not a religious entity.
In his closing argument, Shipley hit home on that point. “You cannot go out and create a fake church and violate the law,” he argued.
During the trial, a Food and Drug Administration agent testified about three Grenon-produced videos that pitched the solution as a cure for cancer, lung cancer and COVID-19, among other deadly diseases.
“We are trying to create a world without disease,” Mark Grenon said in one video, pitching the MMS substance. “It’s been proven to be tremendously effective in curing cancer.”
Another video, dated March 8, 2020, was titled: “The coronavirus is curable. Do you believe it? You better!”
Homer asked the FDA agent, Jose Rivera, if there’s a cure for the coronavirus, which can cause severe respiratory disease and death.
“No, there isn’t,” Rivera said.
To bolster his investigation, Rivera, under a different name, said he bought multiple bottles of the Grenons’ MMS product through their website at $15, $20 and $30 each. They were shipped to addresses in Florida and Georgia. In one instance, Rivera complained that his fictional wife, who was portrayed as battling cancer, did not improve after taking the substance for three weeks. The agent testified that he received an email from one of Grenon’s sons saying that she would have to use it for a longer period of time to be effective.
Prosecutors said the Grenon family’s religious front, the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, sold tens of thousands of MMS orders in violation of federal law since 2010.
It was in that year that Mark Grenon claims to have founded the organization with a man named Jim Humble in a plan to avoid governmental regulation and arrest as they promoted MMS as a miracle cure. Humble, a man who has dabbled in Scientology and professed to be a billion-year-old god, began promoting the substance as early as 2006 in self-published works after he claimed to have discovered its medical properties while on a gold-mining expedition in South America.
After Humble supposedly stepped away from the organization in 2017, Grenon continued to manufacture, promote and sell MMS with his three sons.
The Grenons’ open defiance of a court order ultimately led to criminal charges and a federal raid on the family’s Bradenton home, where federal investigators say they found loaded guns, nearly 10,000 pounds of sodium chlorite powder and thousands of bottles of MMS.
Jonathan and Jordan Grenon, the eldest and youngest sons, were arrested in Bradenton. Mark Grenon and the middle son, Joseph, fled to Colombia, where they were later arrested by Colombian authorities and held for extradition last year.
Information from the Bradenton Herald was used for this story.
This story was originally published July 19, 2023, 6:25 PM.