Protesters react to prison sentence for Amish farmer
The Kentucky Amish farmer serving a federal sentence for mislabeling herbal health products now seeks a pardon from President Donald Trump.
Samuel Girod has filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Justice pardon attorney. Girod, 58, is serving time at the satellite camp of the Federal Correctional Institution, Ashland, a minimum security prison. He was sentenced to six years but his scheduled release is early April 2022, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The petition is listed online as seeking a commutation or reduction of sentence, but the application indicates that Girod seeks a pardon.
Girod, a member of the Old Order Amish faith, was sentenced in June 2017 for obstructing a federal agency and selling herbal health products that were not labeled as required by federal law.
“The court system is seriously broken in Lexington, Ky.,” Girod wrote in his application, a copy of which was mailed to the Lexington Herald-Leader. The website for the U.S. pardon attorney confirmed that it had received Girod’s application.
Girod was convicted in March 2017 on 13 charges, including threatening a person in an attempt to stop him from providing information to a grand jury. The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his conviction earlier this year.
Nevertheless, Girod wrote in the application, “I am innocent. My intentions and my actions has always been to help others.”
In a June letter addressed to President Trump included in the mailing to the Herald-Leader, Girod wrote, “As Amish, we live a simple life and would never knowingly break any law(s) of this great nation. … I represented myself and never had the full understanding as to the consequences.
“President Trump, thank you in advance for reviewing my case. I look forward to being reunited with family shortly.”
Girod became a cause for some who saw him as a victim of the federal government. About 75 supporters of Girod, including many Amish, gathered near the federal courthouse in downtown Lexington before and after his sentencing.
Girod operated a business in Bath County that made products to be used for skin disorders, sinus infections and cancer.
One product called TO-MOR-GONE contained an extract of bloodroot that had a caustic, corrosive effect on human skin, according to an indictment.
A Missouri federal court had barred Girod from distributing the products until he met certain conditions, including letting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspect his business. But when two agents tried to inspect the plant in November 2013, Girod and others blocked them and made them leave, the indictment charged.
Federal prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum that Girod knowingly and intentionally sold mislabeled products to customers and did not tell any of them about the injunction.
At trial, customers testified that they would not have purchased his products if they had known about the injunction. Girod argued that his products were not subject to the FDA because they were herbal remedies, not drugs.
He also argued 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.
Since taking office in 2017, President Trump has issued seven pardons and four commutations, according to the Office of the Pardon Attorney. Trump has also denied 82 requests for pardons and 98 requests for commutations.