The Grenon Family Who Made Millions Selling Bleach as a Cure-All Now Sentenced to Prison

by | Oct 10, 2023 | Quick Facts

Joseph Grenon being questioned and arrested at his temporary residence in Colombia, 2020.

The Grenon Family Who Made Millions Selling Bleach as a Cure-All Now Sentenced to Prison

by | Oct 10, 2023 | Quick Facts

Joseph Grenon being questioned and arrested at his temporary residence in Colombia, 2020.

The cell door has shut on the Grenons, a family of scam artists running a fake church, who sold bleach as a "cure" for various ailments ranging from autism to Covid to vulnerable people all over the world. But the battle to stop MMS is far from over.

The Florida family running Genesis 2, who made millions selling a bleach product as a cure-all for everything from autism to cancer to Covid, were sentenced in a Miami courtroom on Friday. They had been found guilty of conspiring to defraud the US government and FDA by distributing and encouraging people to consume Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), a bleaching agent that is normally used in textile and paper production.

Jonathan and Jordan Grenon, who are brothers, were each sentenced to 12 years in prison. Their father, Mark, and his son Joseph were sentenced to 5 years, a lighter sentence due to an extradition agreement with Colombian authorities who jailed them in 2020 when they’d fled from US authorities. Additionally, Mark Grenon was fined $5,000, and 3 of the 4 defendants were ordered to pay thousands of dollars in restitution to victims of their product, which has caused injury and death to users.

Prosecutors noted at the sentencing that the Grenons had never shown any remorse for their crimes, instead seeing themselves as victims. In court, Mark Grenon described his time in custody as a “kidnapping” and asked US District Judge Cecilia Altonaga to consider $5 million in damages to the Grenons for being “held unlawfully.”

Mark Grenon submitting his fingerprints in a Bogota courthouse, 2020.

Judge Altonaga responded to Mark Grenon’s request for damages: “That’s a nonsensical question. I won’t answer that.”

Aviva Seigler, who has been working with other activists to blow the whistle on Genesis 2 for a decade, gave her view of the Grenons’ treatment by the Courts throughout trial. She cited repeated attempts by the Grenons to derail the trial, with prosecutors keeping one step ahead by filing motions to ensure the trial was able to proceed in July.

“It’s been fair. The judge and all of the judicial system have been very patient with them.” says Seigler.

False Hope—& Real Harm

In July, a jury convicted the Grenons in a brief trial in Miami, at which the defendants represented themselves. (Read our trial coverage here.) Prosecutors documented how the Grenons had targeted autism families and patients with conditions such as cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Among other evidence was an affidavit from FDA Special Agent Jose Rivera, who, using an alias email account, bought products from Genesis 2 in the period after the company was ordered to cease selling MMS. The agent told them his wife was suffering from cancer. A few weeks after receiving a mailing of MMS, Special Agent Rivera wrote from the same account that his wife’s cancer was not improving. He received a reply from Jordan Grenon advising her to go slow and listen to her body.

“3 weeks is not long enough for more serious diseases like cancer,” wrote Grenon. “How long has she been ill? How many drops does she take per hour?”

Assistant US Attorney Michael Homer summed up the evidence in a sentencing statement: “They targeted vulnerable people who were desperate for a cure.”

This false hope was often delivered to patients on their smartphones, with hope being a simple click away via a bank transaction for the so-called miracle. Melissa Eaton, a children’s rights advocate who has gone undercover into MMS forums and provided information to investigators, echoed Homer’s statement: “The victims are often on fixed incomes and they’ve invested what little they had in the promises made to them about MMS.”

But false hopes and drained bank accounts are far from the only negative impact of MMS. Prosecutors told the court that the FDA had received reports of people being hospitalized, facing life-threatening and disabling conditions, sometimes dying after consuming the product, which was produced in Joseph Grenon’s garage in Bradenton, Florida.

In addition to adult patients, autistic children were targeted in marketing, with their parents advised to feed them drops of MMS throughout the day or give them the substance in enema form. This was not only physically dangerous but also traumatizing to the children. In 2019, NBC reporter Brandy Zadrozny quoted one mother who wrote in a social media group that she was worried about side effects. “My son is constantly making a gasping sound.” Another mom wrote about her autistic son, who began to refuse MMS. “He won’t open his mouth. He screams. Spits. Flips over.”

When the Grenons’ product was seized and destroyed in 2020, investigators found animal feces in the garage amongst 50 gallons of muriatic acid, 22 gallons of MMS and 8,300 pounds of sodium chlorite. By then, the Grenons had sold tens of thousands of bottles of MMS. Through a mix of entrepreneurship and evangelism (let’s call it entrepre-vangelism) their products and dealers are also scattered across the globe, meaning that the Grenons’ imprisonment doesn’t end Genesis 2 nor stop the problem of MMS.

Entrepre-Vangelism Keeps MMS Going

The Grenons were able to continue to promote MMS while in prison through cell phone-facilitated broadcasting, communicating with other sellers and crowdfunding nearly $50,000 in a legal fundraiser. During their jail time and trial, Genesis 2 had 3,000 members in 134 countries and “bishops” of the church continued to sell MMS, through a sort of multi-level marketing model that was pioneered in 1996 by Genesis 2 founder, Jim Humble.

Humble, who began partnering with the Grenons in 2010, passed away in September of 2023. His legacy lives on in thousands of individuals worldwide who have attended Genesis 2 seminars and begun selling the product themselves, mainly in North and South America. For $1,500, any seminar attendee could be certified as a Genesis 2 bishop and able to sell the product.

“I do think their other ‘bishops’ will continue their work while the Grenons are in prison,” says Seigler.

One dealer who attended Humble’s early seminars is Kerri Rivera, who has promoted a product she branded the “CD protocol,” after an active ingredient in bleach, chlorine dioxide. For years, Rivera continued to elude prosecution by moving from country to country. She also kept her online sales from being shut down by following the migration of MMS sellers away from direct promotions on platforms like Facebook and towards smaller platforms with no restrictions, such as Me/We, Telegram and Brighteon.

When I looked into Rivera’s presence on Telegram this year, I found her leading an upcoming Telegram seminar. Her supplements were still for sale at $1,200 per package, as well as costly one-on-one Zoom sessions with Rivera. Thousands of people were in CD-related groups on the platform.

“Currently TikTok and Instagram are allowing Kerri Rivera a platform and she’s using those accounts to bait people,” says Eaton. “She’s evading shutdowns there by using code words like “drops” but then she has successfully pulled over thousands of new followers to her Telegram groups where she more freely discusses the products without the worry of having her accounts shut down.”

Once customers are recruited through mainstream platforms to use unregulated platforms, the products can be sold via a podcast pitch and an email address– the same method that US investigator Jose Rivera used to purchase MMS from Genesis 2 through his alias account.

Andreas Kalcker, who lives in Switzerland, has used various social media apps to sell MMS, which he has branded as Comusav. As Lucía Garde reported in Chequeado, local dealers sell on social media through groups, sometimes asking members to contact them via Instant Messenger or WhatsApp before revealing their business and making deals: “They claim to sell “natural products” on Facebook, but, once you gain their confidence, they’d admit to offer [MMS].”

In August of 2020, local media reported that, Kalcker’s team sold MMS to the parents of a five year old boy in Argentina. The child then died as a result of multiple organ failure consistent with chlorine dioxide poisoning. Authorities in Argentina raided Kalcker’s facilities in 2021 and are now pursuing Kalcker in connection to the death, charging him with illegally practicing medicine and selling fake medicine, charges which could lead to 25 years in prison if proven to have caused the child’s death.

Investigations continue in various countries; for example, a Genesis 2 chapter leader and MMS dealer was arrested in Canada earlier this year, with actions by Canadian federal authorities to shut down websites selling MMS and to stop Shopify payment accounts for the product by other dealers.

Looking Ahead

Efforts to shut down MMS will require law enforcement from multiple countries to collaborate, much like the Colombian and US governments collaborated in the Grenon case. This means allocating more resources to regulatory investigators, some of whom are already operating beyond capacity, as they must be able to target sellers who produce in one country then sell through affiliates in other countries.

Eaton sees investigators’ work to convict the Grenons as a crucial step towards ending the threat of MMS. The other step, in her view, is better education to dissuade people from purchasing the poisoned “hope” that’s merely a click away.

In a world where many are skeptical of authority, educating around MMS requires thinking outside the box—or inside the phone. Social media has accelerated the promotion of scam health products, but it can also be used as a grassroots education tool. Eaton has seen success in online autism support groups, where one parent reaches out to others to warn of the dangers. She says the neurodiversity movement has been a leading force in educating parents of autistic children, often via social media.

“Authorities should be learning from the language and tone the neurodiversity community uses, because it does impact whether people turn to MMS or not.”

Anne Borden King

Anne Borden King

Anne Borden King is a writer and activist. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Healthy Debate, The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism and other publications. Her expose on the CPRI, a residential institution in Ontario, won the 2021 Helen Henderson Award. Anne is co-founder of Autistics for Autistics (A4A), a Canadian affiliate of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). She is also the host of Noncompliant: A Neurodiversity Podcast.

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