PhotoIndustrial bleach isn't normally considered to be a cure for anything. In fact, it's toxic and can cause, not cure, all kinds of health problems. But that didn't stop Louis Smith from selling the stuff under the name "Miracle Mineral Supplement," claiming it could cure cancer, AIDS, malaria, and the common cold, among other maladies.

Smith, 45, of Spokane, Washington, was sentenced last night to more than four years in federal prison by Chief Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson of the Eastern District of Washington. The sentence spans 51 months in prison and will be followed by three years of supervised release. 

After a seven-day trial in June, a jury convicted Smith of one count of conspiracy to commit multiple crimes, three counts of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead, and one count of fraudulently smuggling merchandise into the United States. 

Sodium chlorite

Evidence at trial showed that Smith operated a business called “Project GreenLife” (PGL) from 2007 to 2011.  PGL sold a product called “Miracle Mineral Supplement,” or MMS, over the Internet.  MMS is a mixture of sodium chlorite and water.  Sodium chlorite is an industrial chemical used as a pesticide, for hydraulic fracturing, and for wastewater treatment. 

Sodium chlorite cannot legally be sold for human consumption, and suppliers of the chemical include a warning sheet stating that it can cause potentially fatal side effects if swallowed.

“Today’s sentence is a just result reflecting the defendant’s role as the leader of a business that sold dangerous chemicals as miracle cures to sick people and their desperate loved ones,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “Consumers have the right to expect that the medicines that they purchase are safe and effective.”

The government presented evidence that Smith instructed consumers to combine MMS with citric acid to create chlorine dioxide, add water and drink the resulting mixture.  Chlorine dioxide is a potent agent used to bleach textiles, among other industrial applications.  Chlorine dioxide is a severe respiratory and eye irritant that can cause nausea, diarrhea, and dehydration. 

Smith provided instructions for use of his product and said that nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting were all signs that the miracle cure was working.  The instructions also stated that despite a risk of possible brain damage, the product might still be appropriate for pregnant women or infants who were seriously ill.

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