Napa naturopathic doctor charged with faking COVID-19 documents, treatments
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday the arrest of a state-licensed naturopathic doctor based in Napa for an alleged scheme to sell “immunization pellets” to clients and send them fake vaccination cards to make it appear they had received shots of one of the FDA’s approved coronavirus vaccines.
Federal prosecutors charged Juli A. Mazi, 41, with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care.
The case is the first federal criminal fraud prosecution related to purported homeopathic immunization treatments against the coronavirus and fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination record cards, the department said in a news release.
“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,” Stephanie Hinds, acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, said in a prepared statement. “We will act to protect trust in the medical developments that are enabling us to emerge from the problems presented by the pandemic.”
In April, a tipster submitted a complaint to a hotline set up by the federal Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, stating their family members had purchased “homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets” from Mazi, according to court documents.
Mazi said the pellets contained small amounts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and would trigger an antibody response in the immune system and offer “lifelong immunity to COVID-19,” the DOJ stated.
Federal investigators gleaned written documents and monitored recordings with consent from patients to build their case.
Along with delivery of the pellets, Mazi sent patients official COVID-19 vaccination record cards. Though relatives of the person behind the federal complaint had not received injections, the cards stated they had gotten the Moderna vaccine, according to court documents.
Mazi instructed the family on how to falsely mark the cards to indicate they had gotten their first shot the day they ingested the pellets, and their second following the prescribed lapse of time, which is 28 days for Moderna. She even provided customers with specific Moderna lot numbers to enter onto the cards, federal officials said.
This was not Mazi’s first scheme for falsifying immunization records, authorities say. She also offered homeopathic solutions for childhood illnesses she claimed would satisfy the immunization requirements for California schools, and falsified immunization cards that were then submitted by parents to schools, according to the Department of Justice.
Mazi used the COVID-19 pandemic to expand her preexisting immunization scheme, the department said.
To encourage customers to purchase the pellets, federal authorities allege, Mazi claimed that the FDA-authorized coronavirus vaccines contain “toxic ingredients.” She further stated that her clients could provide the pellets to children for COVID immunity, and that the “dose is actually the same for babies.”
Her Yelp page says that as a naturopathic doctor, Mazi “has training very similar to a medical doctor — 4 years of premedical school, 4 years of postgraduate medical school, and rigorous board certifications.” She received a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, according to her Yelp page.
Mazi came to Napa from Santa Cruz County, where she was named best naturopathic doctor in 2013, according to a 2019 Napa Valley Register story. Her practice was also named best alternative health center for four years running, according to the story.
Mazi lists 2310 California Blvd. in Napa as her place of business on websites such as Healthgrades and Sharecare. That address is a townhome complex.
Mazi could not be reached at her home Wednesday.
A phone message left at her office was not immediately returned. It was not clear if she had an attorney who could speak on her behalf.
The Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General’s San Francisco regional office and the FBI’s San Francisco field office are jointly investigating the case. Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.
You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @Skinny_Post.