A Florida family that has for years allegedly used a sham church to peddle a toxic cleaning solution as a miracle cure for everything from cancer to COVID-19 has been indicted on fraud and criminal contempt charges in addition to the ones levied against them last year.
Mark Grenon and his three sons—Jonathan, Jordan, and Joseph—face up to life behind bars after a federal grand jury indicted them on Friday for the years-long scam that prosecutors say they have been running out of a “non-religious church” established solely to evade oversight and regulations.
They were first hit with related fraud charges in July 2020, landing two of them in custody and prompting two others—Mark Grenon, the church’s so-called “archbishop,” and Joseph—to flee to Colombia, where prosecutors say they remain on the lam. The latest indictment ups the maximum sentence they may face on conviction.
The two who did not manage to escape the country, Jonathan and Jordan, are due to be arraigned on Monday in federal magistrate court in Miami.
At the center of the grift, prosecutors say, is the “Miracle Mineral Solution” the family has dubbed a “sacrament” of the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing. The Grenon family allegedly pushed the toxic liquid on vulnerable groups, telling the parents of autistic children and women with breast cancer that the solution—a dangerous industrial cleaning solution—would heal them. According to the Department of Justice, the Grenons have sold “tens of thousands of bottles” of the Miracle Mineral Solution to people nationwide. Prosecutors say a search of Jonathan Grenon’s home at the time of his arrest last year revealed that “MMS” was being manufactured in a backyard shed. Almost 10,000 pounds of sodium chlorite powder was found on the premises, along with several loaded firearms, including a pump-action shotgun hidden inside a violin case, the DOJ said.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, drinking MMS is no different than swigging bleach. The FDA, which had issued a warning against ingesting the chemical, “received reports of people requiring hospitalizations, developing life-threatening conditions, and even dying after drinking MMS,” federal prosecutors said.
The Genesis II Church that the Grenons used to sell the solution for mandatory donations was nothing more than a way for them to dodge federal regulations, prosecutors say. Mark Grenon, the church’s so-called “archbishop,” is said to have admitted as much in a 2020 interview with a federal investigator as part of a related case.
“Everything you do commercially is under the Universal Commercial code, okay?” Grenon said, according to the complaint. “A church is completely separate from that code, statutes, and laws. That’s why a priest can give a kid wine in church publicly and not get arrested. Because it’s a sacrament.[…] I knew this because . . . they tried to arrest us for proclaiming stuff on the street in Boston. They threw it out of court because we’re a church. You can’t arrest us from doing one of our sacraments, and I knew this. So that’s why . . . I said let’s do a church,” Grenon was quoted saying in a criminal complaint.
An ABC News investigation in 2016 caught Mark Grenon giving a “sermon” to people on the solution at a conference where attendees were charged $450 just to get in the door.
“I’ve got people curing some major stuff just from [MMS],” he said. “From prostrate cancer, to brain cancer, to autism …” he said.
A woman died in 2009 just hours after drinking the supposed miracle cure, though her autopsy wound up being inconclusive and did not cite the solution as her cause of death.
Friday’s indictment comes after the family flouted an injunction by a federal judge last April ordering that all sales of the bogus drug be halted. The family responded to the injunction by threatening to “pick up guns” and start “a Waco” if authorities tried to enforce it, the DOJ said. The family also allegedly threatened the federal judge in the case.