Technology

Fugitive “sovereign citizen” arrested for selling silver as bogus COVID cure


Gordon Pedersen seen holding one of his silver-based products.
Enlarge / Gordon Pedersen seen holding one of his silver-based products.

After a three-year hunt, federal law enforcement agents have finally arrested an alleged fake doctor who made around $2 million selling a silver solution he falsely claimed “destroys” the pandemic coronavirus via vibrations.

Last week, federal officials finally arrested Gordon H. Pedersen, 63, of Cedar Hills, Utah, who had been on the run since August 2020. In the month prior, Pedersen was indicted on seven fraud-related counts, including mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, and four counts related to the felony introduction of a misbranded drug with intent to defraud and mislead. Pederson failed to attend court, and a federal judge issued an arrest warrant on August 25, 2020.

Since then, he has eluded law enforcement officers’ efforts, including multiple surveillance attempts. Initial reports indicated he may have hid in a log cabin in Wyoming or Utah. In a December 2020 interview, Pedersen’s wife, Julia Currey, told the US Marshall Service that she didn’t know where he was but that his lawyers and friends were “taking care of Gordon.”

On the lam, Pederson used his free time to send bizarre documents and articles to the court. The screeds lambasted the charges against him and challenged the existence of the US government, calling it a “bankrupt corporation” and declaring “all law is technically a civilly dead entity.” Pedersen, meanwhile, declared himself a “corporate entity” and “not any kind of US citizen.”

The US attorney’s office for the District of Utah called the claims “vexing” and “clearly frivolous.” And the prosecutors used Pedersen’s claims in their argument for now keeping him detained while awaiting trial. In addition to his ability to evade capture, “His relentless sovereign citizen claims add to the risk of flight and an indication that he will attempt to obstruct justice, but also present a danger to the community,” the office wrote.

Pedersen was finally arrested last week after a Food and Drug Administration special agent spotted him last month. The agent was surveilling Pedersen’s known address when he saw him leave the residence in a rental car—one rented in his wife’s name—and drive to a gas station for gas and a drink, which he paid for in cash.

“100% Legal”

With Pedersen found, he will finally face the fraud charges against him. Prosecutors allege that beginning around 2014, Pedersen started selling various silver-based products through two companies, one he owned, GP Silver LLC, and another he co-owned, My Doctor Suggests LLC. The silver-based products are solutions, gels, soaps, lozenges, and mouthwash—and they’re still available for sale on Amazon. Prior to entirely moving to Amazon, Pederson sold the items directly through his website, according to the indictment. His online store had an orange digital stamp that assured customers that it was “100% Legal.”

Before the pandemic, Pedersen claimed—to little notice, apparently—that his products could treat various ailments, including arthritis, diabetes, influenza, and pneumonia. But, when the pandemic struck, he claimed they could also treat and prevent COVID-19. In online videos and promotions, Pedersen claimed that having silver in your bloodstream could “usher” the virus out of your body and that silver nanoparticles could block the virus from entering your cells.

Specifically, he claimed that his “structural alkaline silver” product “resonates, or vibrates, at a frequency that destroys the membrane of the virus, making the virus incapable of attach to any healthy cell, or to infect you in any way.”

According to prosecutors, he made these claims while falsely posing as a medical doctor and expert, though he does not have a medical degree or license. He falsely claimed to have PhDs in immunology, biology, and naturopathic medicine, a master’s degree in “cardiac rehabilitation and wellness,” and claimed he was board-certified in anti-aging and regenerative medicine. In online videos, he has appeared in a white coat monogrammed with “Dr. Gordon Pedersen” and with a stethoscope around his neck.

Between January and the end of April 2020, sales on his My Doctor Suggests site increased 400 percent, bringing in around $2 million during the period.

In his writings to the court as a fugitive, Pedersen defended his claims about silver nanoparticles by citing a study conducted in Petri dishes of questionable relevance. He also claimed that he has a PhD in toxicology and a certificate in naturopathic medicine. Last, he wrote that wearing a lab coat and stethoscope is “not a criminal offense.”

No trial date has been set yet. Pedersen has asked to represent himself in court. A Faretta Hearing to determine whether Pedersen should be allowed to defend himself is scheduled for August 18.