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Former Port Angeles, Washington, Naturopath sentenced for scheme to profit on ‘COVID-19 cure’

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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 28, 2022

Third federal conviction for introducing misbranded drugs into commerce; repeatedly ignored state licensing rules

Tacoma - A former Port Angeles, Washington, naturopathic physician was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 8 months in prison and one year of supervised release for a federal felony related to his misbranding, and sale in interstate commerce, of products he claimed could prevent and treat numerous serious diseases, including COVID-19 and MRSA, announced U.S. Attorney Nicholas W. Brown. Richard Marschall, 69, was convicted in October 2021, following a 4-day trial. The jury found Marschall guilty of Introduction of Misbranded Drugs into Interstate Commerce, his third conviction for the same crime following earlier prosecutions in 2011 and 2017. At the sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle said, “It is extremely dangerous during the COVID epidemic for people to be engaged in conduct that would lead other people to defer and wait to receive medical care.”

“Mr. Marschall has a history of lying to patients about their health and his proposed treatments. His lies in this case are particularly troubling because he employed them when advising others about a deadly pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “As people became fearful and searched for answers, Marschall touted an unproven treatment as a miracle cure for the deadly disease. Such conduct can prevent patients from getting the legitimate treatment they need if they become ill.”

 According to records filed in the case, in late March 2020, Food and Drug Administration criminal investigators began reviewing complaints from the public about Facebook posts for Marschall’s products. Investigators reviewed Marschall's Facebook page which included claims that his product the “Dynamic Duo” could “crush” viruses, including the coronavirus. Marschall billed himself as a retired naturopath and “Health Coach.” Marschall’s Facebook page also claimed that his products could eliminate MRSA and other infections “even if there is antibiotic resistance.”

On March 30, 2020, an FDA investigator spoke to Marschall on the telephone in an undercover capacity explaining to Marschall that she was worried about COVID-19. Marschall told the investigator that the “Dynamic Duo” contained garlic extract and larch tree starch, and further represented that one of the substances “doesn’t boost the immune system, it just kills the virus.” Marschall represented that the second substance would boost the production of white blood cells that attack infections. The undercover agent ultimately ordered the “Dynamic Duo” for $140 plus shipping. 

On the call with the FDA investigator, Marschall also referred to himself as “Dr. Rick Marschall.” His Facebook posts and other marketing materials for the “Dynamic Duo” also referred to Marschall as “N.D.” and “N.D. retired.” But Marschall did not have a license to practice naturopathy. In 2018, the Washington State Department of Health permanently revoked his credential to practice as a naturopath. 

FDA investigators received Marschall’s “Dynamic Duo” products in early April 2020, along with instructional and marketing material. The products themselves were not made by Marschall but by other manufacturers. The manufacturers’ labels for the substances do not claim to kill viruses, but the material added by Marschall stated the substances can “crush 30 different viral infections, including those in the Corona family, like in China Corona-19.”

The jury found that Marschall misbranded the drugs because his marketing was false or misleading and because his products were not listed with the FDA.

Marschall was convicted previously and sentenced in federal court for distributing misbranded drugs, both in 2011 and again in 2017. 

In asking for a year-long prison term prosecutors wrote to the court, “For decades, Marschall lied and broke the law to provide unapproved treatments and healthcare services. Marschall lied to patients. He lied to authorities. He treated patients without examining them. And he prescribed substances in unusually large doses. Marschall repeated that dangerous playbook in this case: lying to the undercover agent about his credentials, treating her and her children over the phone without a physical exam, and recommending an extremely high dose of his drug.”

The case was investigated by the FDA Office of Criminal Investigation (FDA-OCI). The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Nicholas Manheim, Michelle Jensen, and Brian Werner

Component(s): 
Criminal Division
Contact: 
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.

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