An Oregon couple accused of selling a diluted version of industrial bleach as a cure for cancer, ear aches and other maladies claims the federal government can't touch them because the product was sold to a private health association protected by free-speech and other constitutional rights.
Prosecutors call such claims misguided, the Medford Mail Tribune reported.
In federal court filings, Louis Daniel Smith, 42, and Karis Delong, 38, of Ashland say the production and sale of "Miracle Mineral Supplement" through their online company, Project GreenLife, was protected because the product was offered only to members of a "First Amendment Private Health Care Association."
Because it's a private association, they say, they are beyond the regulatory power of agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, which is charged with protecting public health.
The case is in federal court in Spokane, Wash., where Project GreenLife operated. The defendants are accused of smuggling their product's active ingredient, sodium chlorite, from Canada. The company was shut down after a 2011 FDA raid in Spokane.
Also accused were a couple from Nine Mile Falls, Wash.: Chris Olson, 49, and Tammy Olson, 50. The four were indicted on charges of conspiracy, interstate sales of misbranded drugs and smuggling.
Prosecutors say the Miracle Mineral Supplement was a mixture of water and sodium chlorite. Buyers were told to mix the solution with citric acid to form chlorine dioxide, an industrial chemical used to bleach textiles and disinfect wastewater, according to court records.
Labeling on the chemical says it should never be ingested because it can cause digestive tract burning, nausea, diarrhea and dehydration, the Tribune reported. If inhaled, it can cause respiratory distress, lung congestion and possibly death.
The defendants argue the indictment doesn't claim the product sickened or harmed anyone, so any investigation is unwarranted.
Prosecutors argued in filings last week that Smith and Delong can't give themselves a shield to operate illegally just by declaring their operation is private, not public. The prosecutors also said the indictments were not based on the beliefs of the defendants.
"The defendant's misguided views of the grand jury's jurisdiction are also without support in the law," federal prosecutor Christopher Parisi wrote.