A doctor in California pleaded guilty to telling people he had the “magic bullet” treatment for COVID-19 and sold it for thousands of dollars, federal prosecutors say.
Jennings Ryan Staley pleaded guilty to smuggling in hydroxychloroquine into the U.S. for his coronavirus “treatment kits,” prosecutors said. He operated the Skinny Beach Medical Spas in the San Diego area.
He will be sentenced at a later date and faces up to 20 years in prison.
Staley admitted to working with a Chinese supplier to smuggle 26 pounds of hydroxychloroquine into the U.S. by mislabeling it as “yam extract.” He said he planned to sell the drug as part of his COVID-19 treatment kid, according to prosecutors.
He sold the treatment kits to customers in March and April 2020 and described them as a “100 percent” cure, a “magic bullet,” an “amazing weapon,” and “almost too be good to be true.” Staley told clients the products would provide at least six wees of immunity from the virus.
An undercover FBI agent purchased six of the kits for $4,000, prosecutors noted.
Staley also admitted he lied to investigators as they questioned him about the kits and the smuggling operation, according to prosecutors.
“While healthcare workers around the world selflessly labored on the frontlines of an international pandemic, this doctor used his position of trust to cash in on COVID-19 fears,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “We are committed to protecting the American people from such scams and holding the scammers accountable.”