Amish man convicted of selling improperly labeled health products

A Bath County man made and sold herbal health products that were not adequately labeled, including one that was dangerous when used as suggested on the package, a federal jury has ruled.

Jurors convicted Samuel A. Girod on Wednesday on all 13 charges he faced. The most serious charge — threatening a person to try to keep him from providing information to a grand jury — carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Girod, a member of the Old Order Amish faith, operated a business in Bath County that made products to be used for a variety of health problems, including skin disorders, sinus infections and cancer, according to court documents.

Three products were at issue in the case. They were called Chickweed Healing Salve, TO-MOR-GONE and R.E.P.

TO-MOR-GONE contained an extract of bloodroot that had a caustic, corrosive effect on human skin, the indictment charged.

A federal court in Missouri had barred Girod in 2013 from distributing the products until he met certain conditions, including letting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspect his business, the indictment said.

However, when two agents tried to inspect his plant in November 2013, Girod and others blocked them and made them leave, the indictment charged.

Girod represented himself, arguing that his products weren’t subject to FDA oversight because they were herbal remedies, not drugs. He referred to himself as “accused, in error.”

Girod also said that requiring FDA approval of his products infringed on his religious freedom. Old Order Amish seek to insulate themselves from the modern world, including modern pharmaceuticals, he said.

Jurors rejected Girod’s defense after about four hours of deliberation, convicting him of conspiring to impede federal officers; obstructing a proceeding before a federal agency; failing to register with the FDA as required; tampering with a witness; failing to appear for a hearing; and distributing misbranded drugs.

The jury ruled that the salves Girod distributed didn’t have adequate directions for use. One element of the charge was that he misbranded the products with the intent to defraud or mislead people.

In the case of TO-MOR-GONE, the jury ruled that the product label didn’t have adequate warnings against its use in cases when using it would be dangerous, and that it would endanger health when used in the dose and manner suggested on the package.

U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves scheduled sentencing for Girod in June.

A Mount Sterling man, Curtis Parks, was charged in relation to the case.

Parks allegedly drove Girod to the grocery store and elsewhere and helped him avoid authorities after missing a court hearing last August.

Reeves had issued an arrest warrant for him.