Former naturopath sentenced for false COVID-19 cure

Third federal conviction for introducing misbranded drugs into commerce

TACOMA — Former Port Angeles-area naturopath Rick Marschall has been sentenced to eight months in prison and one year of supervised release for selling products he claimed could prevent and treat numerous serious diseases, including COVID-19 and MRSA.

Marschall, 69, was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, announced U.S. Attorney Nicholas W. Brown. He had been convicted in October after a four-day trial. The jury found him guilty of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. The jury found that his marketing was false or misleading and because his products were not listed with the FDA.

It was his third felony 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.”

Brown said that 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.

“As people became fearful and searched for answers, Marschall touted an unproven treatment as a miracle cure for the deadly disease,” Brown continued.

”Such conduct can prevent patients from getting the legitimate treatment they need if they become ill.”

Food and Drug Administration criminal investigators began reviewing complaints from the public about Facebook posts for Marschall’s products in late March 2020, according to court records.

Investigators said Marschall’s Facebook page included claims that his product. Dynamic Duo, could “crush” viruses, including COVID-19. He described himself as a retired naturopath and “health coach,” they said, and his 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, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Marschall told the investigator that Dynamic Duo contained garlic extract and larch tree starch, and added that one of the substances “doesn’t boost the immune system, it just kills the virus” while the other boost the production of white blood cells that attack infections, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The undercover agent ultimately ordered the product for $140 plus shipping.

On the call with the FDA investigator, Marschall also referred to himself as Dr. Rick Marschall and his Facebook posts referred to him as “N.D.” and “N.D., retired,” investigators said. In 2018, the Washington State Department of Health permanently revoked his credential to practice as a naturopath.

FDA investigators received Marschall’s products in early April 2020 along with instructional and marketing material., the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The products themselves were not made by Marschall but by other manufacturers, the office said, adding that the manufacturers’ labels for the substances do not claim to kill viruses, but the material added by Marschall said the substances can “crush 30 different viral infections, including those in the Corona family, like in China Corona-19.”

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.

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