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California doctor sentenced for selling COVID-19 'cure'

Virus Outbreak Website Scams
Posted at 10:43 AM, May 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-31 13:43:33-04

The U.S. Justice Department said a California doctor was sentenced Friday to prison for selling COVID-19 "treatment kits."

Federal prosecutors said Jennings Ryan Staley was sentenced to 30 days of custody and one year of home confinement for attempting to smuggle the medication hydroxychloroquine into the United States to sell as a cure to the coronavirus through his San Diego med spa business.

“At the height of the pandemic, before vaccines were available, this doctor sought to profit from patients’ fears,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman in a news release. “He abused his position of trust and undermined the integrity of the entire medical profession."

Staley pleaded guilty last year to one count of importation contrary to law.

According to prosecutors, he admitted that he worked with a Chinese supplier to try to smuggle a barrel that he believed contained over 26 pounds of hydroxychloroquine powder into the U.S. by mislabeling it as “yam extract.”

Prosecutors said that Staley intended to sell the hydroxychloroquine powder in capsules in March and April 2020 to his customers at Skinny Beach Med Spas in and around San Diego.

Prosecutors said that in conversations with an undercover FBI agent posing as a potential client, Staley described the products as a “one hundred percent” cure, a “magic bullet,” an “amazing weapon,” and “almost too good to be true."

A judge also ordered Staley to pay a $10,000 fine and return the $4,000 paid by the undercover agent.

Prosecutors said he also has to give up 4,500 tablets of various pharmaceutical drugs, multiple bags of empty pill capsules, and a manual capsule-filling machine.