A Nine Mile Falls man implicated in the international sale of industrial bleach as a “miracle” cure for HIV, cancer and other diseases will aid federal prosecutors in the investigation of his alleged co-conspirators. Chris Olson likely will avoid federal prison time after pleading guilty to bottling and labeling drugs that were shipped across state lines between 2010 and 2012, said his attorney, Bevan Maxey.
Court documents allege Olson packaged sodium chlorite and distilled water, a chemical compound used in the bleaching of paper and textiles, as a “Miracle Mineral Supplement.” The work was done on behalf of a Nevada corporation run by an Oregon couple who also maintained offices in Spokane. Prosecutors said the product was bottled at a facility in Hillyard, where Olson also operates a hose and belt equipment manufacturing plant, as recently as July 2012.
Olson’s plea agreement indicates he’ll assist federal authorities in the prosecution of his co-defendants, which include alleged mastermind Louis D. Smith, Karis Delong and Olson’s ex-wife, Tammy. All three are scheduled for trial in a Spokane federal courtroom in December.
The Food and Drug Administration began cracking down on the product, abbreviated MMS by sellers online. Those sellers included Smith’s Project Greenlife International. The drug was first pitched by Jim Humble, a man who started a church called Genesis II Church of Health and Healing. Humble proclaimed himself archbishop of the church and began advocating the drug’s use as a cure for malaria on YouTube in 2006.
Australian newspapers reported the death of a 56-year-old woman in August 2007 who’d taken the substance to ward off diseased mosquitoes. The woman was on a honeymoon cruise to the island nation of Vanuatu, about 1,500 miles off Australia’s eastern coast. She died within 12 hours of taking the drug, according to reports.
The FDA warns ingesting sodium chlorite can result in severe nausea, vomiting and potentially lethal low blood pressure as a result of dehydration.
Smith, who is representing himself in federal court, bottled MMS at a Spokane warehouse and shipped it to places as far-flung as Iraq before the FDA shut down the facility in August 2010, prosecutors say. Federal investigators found payments in Iraqi dinar totaling $3,000 in their sting, according to court documents.
Smith could not be reached for comment this week at a listed phone number or through a company email address.
Olson began bottling the solution at the Hillyard facility shortly after Smith’s operation was shut down, according to allegations contained in a six-count indictment. Maxey said his client did so at the direction of Smith.
“Mr. Olson did not believe that he was involving himself in anything inappropriate,” Maxey said. Olson admitted he did not include his address or phone number on the solution’s packaging, nor did he seek to register with the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services as required under federal law.
Smith also faces charges of fraud and smuggling after altering bottle labels following the federal raid, according to prosecutors.
His company’s website added a disclaimer in 2010 saying the so-called cure was to be used for water purification only. But internal emails obtained by federal authorities suggest Smith and his employees used that statement to pacify wary chemical companies in Utah and Canada that questioned if he was bottling sodium chlorite they sold him for human consumption.
Smith and Delong have argued in legal filings their practices were protected speech under the First Amendment because they were operating as a private company with health care members that opted in to their services. They also claimed to cease operating as a corporation after the 2010 raid. Smith also has claimed the government prejudiced the public by labeling him a “modern day snake oil salesman” in a news release about the case.
Those motions to dismiss were thrown out by a federal judge. Chris Olson will not be sentenced until after the other cases are resolved, Maxey said.