SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A naturopathic physician in Northern California has been arrested and charged after federal prosecutors said she sold fake COVID-19 immunization treatments and fraudulent vaccination cards that made it seem like customers received Moderna vaccines.
Juli A. Mazi, 41, of Napa, was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement Wednesday.
The case is the first federal criminal fraud prosecution related to homeoprophylaxis immunizations and fraudulent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 vaccination cards, the department said.
Federal prosecutors say Mazi sold homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets she fraudulently claimed would provide “lifelong immunity to COVID-19.” She told customers the pellets contained small amounts of the virus and would create an antibody response, prosecutors said.
The investigation was prompted by a complaint in April to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General hotline.
n a statement, the office told FOX40, “Her actions, including falsifying vaccination cards, undermine the ongoing COVID-19 public health response efforts and endanger the lives of men, women, and children. We encourage the public to remain vigilant and report suspected health care fraud to our Hotline immediately.”
“According to the complaint, instead of disseminating valid remedies and information, Juli Mazi profited from unlawfully peddling unapproved remedies, stirring up false fears, and generating fake proof of vaccinations,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds for the Northern District of California.
Sacramento attorney Mark Reichel said federal prosecutors prepare and investigate quite a bit before making an arrest in a first-of-its-kind case like this.
“This is actually breaking ground here. There are a lot of cases in the past to look at in what kind of sentences to give. Maximum of 20 years, minimum of nothing,” Reichel said. “Where they will go in sentencing is was there any real harm to some of these victims.”
It was not immediately known if Mazi had a lawyer who could speak on her behalf. A phone message to her office in Napa was not immediately returned.
Suspected fraud can be reported to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.