Sentencing set for naturopath who sold fake vaccine cards

August 10, 2022 GMT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A naturopathic doctor charged with selling fake COVID-19 immunization treatments and fraudulent vaccination cards will be sentenced in November after a California judge on Wednesday denied her motion to withdraw her plea agreement.

Juli A. Mazi, of Napa, pleaded guilty last April in federal court in San Francisco to one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters.

Mazi, who has since fired her attorneys and is now representing herself, sought to vacate her plea agreement while also filing a motion challenging the very laws that led to her prosecution.

“There were no laws broken,” Mazi read from her motion during a virtual hearing Wednesday. “Can you provide the laws that allow you to disregard the procedures that a naturopathic doctor is licensed to administer?”

After hearing her out, U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer told Mazi that “it appears you are not contesting the facts” outlined in the plea agreement.

“To the extent you are making a motion to withdraw your plea, that is denied,” Breyer said. “To the extent that you are not making a motion to plea, but challenging the laws upon which you entered your plea, or this prosecution, that is also denied.”

Breyer set a sentencing hearing for Nov. 29.

The case was the first federal criminal fraud prosecution related to fraudulent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination cards for COVID-19, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Mazi provided fake CDC vaccination cards for COVID-19 to at least 200 people with instructions on how to complete the cards to make them look like they had received a Moderna vaccine, federal prosecutors said.

She also sold homeopathic 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, they said.

Mazi also offered the pellets in place of childhood vaccinations required for attendance at school and sold at least 100 fake immunization cards that said the children had been vaccinated, knowing the documents would be submitted to schools, officials said.

Federal officials opened an investigation against Mazi after receiving a complaint in April 2021 to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General hotline.