A Porterville man has been arrested on charges that he fraudulently marketed and sold herbal mixtures as FDA approved treatments for COVID-19.
Huu Tieu, 58, is charged with mail fraud and introducing a misbranded drug into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud. A grand jury indicted Tieu on July 9 on five counts stemming from the allegations, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Claimed ‘ImunStem’ Product was FDA Approved
Tieu is president and chief executive officer of Golden Sunrise Pharmaceutical Inc. and Golden Sunrise Nutraceutical Inc., both headquartered in Porterville.
“In materials posted on the companies’ websites and Facebook pages and in emails to the media, Tieu made a series of false statements about the Emergency D-Virus Plan of Care,” including FDA approval of a product identified as “ImunStem,” the release said.
On several occasions, the release noted, Tieu was notified by the FDA in writing that the product was not approved for any intended use.
Medicare and Medi-Cal Claims
The indictment alleges Tieu made misrepresentations for the purpose of soliciting customers, both patients and health care professionals, to acquire Golden Sunrise products so that he could submit reimbursement claims to the patients’ insurers, including Medicare and Medi-Cal. Tieu dispensed his products to customers in the Porterville area and also shipped the products to other parts of California and the United States, the release said.
GV Wire℠ called a number listed on the company’s website and a woman answered the phone, took a message and said Tieu would call back when he gets back to the office. She didn’t know when that would be.
The release said an undercover investigator with the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office met with Tieu in person on May 8, telling him her mother was 68 and very sick with COVID-19, The investigator asked Tieu if she should take her mother to the hospital. Tieu responded, “No. You cannot go in there,” and instead, encouraged her to use Golden Sunrise products.
If convicted, Tieu faces 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the mail fraud counts and three years in prison and a $10,000 fine on the misbranding counts.