Thursday, June 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

California doctor strikes plea bargain on charges of selling fake Covid vaccine cards

The Napa-based naturopath stands accused of selling unapproved vaccines for Covid-19 and childhood illnesses while also falsifying vaccination cards for patients.

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Federal prosecutors have reached a plea deal with a homeopathic doctor accused of peddling unapproved Covid-19 “immunization pellets” and selling phony vaccination cards she falsely claimed would satisfy immunization requirements for California schools.

Juli Mazi appeared by video link before U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler on Thursday where she entered an initial plea of not guilty.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Katie Lloyd-Lovett then asked the judge to set a change of plea hearing, saying, “We do have a plea agreement.”

She did not divulge the details of the agreement involving the doctor, 41, who was arrested in July 2021 and charged with felony wire fraud and making false statements related to health care matters. The charges carry a combined maximum federal prison sentence of 25 years.

Beeler set Mazi's change of plea hearing for April 6 before U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, a date chosen in part to accommodate Mazi's patient schedule.

Mazi describes herself on her website as a "licensed primary care doctor" who received her doctorate in naturopathic medicine from the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. She practices botanical medicine and “classical homeopathy," a German system developed more than 200 years ago based on the theories that minimum dosages make medicines more effective, and that substances that induce disease symptoms in healthy people can cure similar symptoms in sick people.

"Mazi used the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to expand her preexisting immunization scheme and capitalize on a national emergency for her own financial gain," prosecutors said in the criminal complaint filed against her last year.

Federal investigators first learned of the suspected scheme to sell fake Covid-19 vaccines this past April when a complaint was filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). The person who filed that complaint said his or her family members obtained pellets from Mazi. The doctor told them the pellets contained trace amounts of the Covid-19 virus that would create an antibody response in their immune systems, according to the complainant.

Prosecutors say Mazi gave those patients Covid-19 vaccination cards that listed Moderna as the vaccine, even though they never received injections of the FDA-approved vaccine. Mazi purportedly told patients to falsely state on those cards that they received the Moderna vaccine on the date they ingested her unapproved Covid-19 homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets.

Homeoprophylaxis involves exposing someone to dilute amounts of a disease, purportedly to stimulate the immune system and create immunity. Prosecutors say Mazi falsely claimed that orally ingesting pellets with small amounts of Covid-19 would provide "lifelong immunity" to the virus.

She is also accused of spreading misinformation about FDA-approved Covid-19 vaccines by falsely claiming they contain “toxic ingredients."

Categories:Criminal, Health

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.