Man Pleads Guilty to Selling Bogus AIDS Cure Over Internet
Steven Tondre, a California electrical handyman, on Monday pled guilty to four misdemeanor counts related to his Internet sales of tap water mixed with colloidal silver, which he touted as an AIDS cure, Reuters reports. Tondre, who sold his "EXP" mixture in 16 oz. bottles over the Internet from January 2000 through October 2000, had been charged with two felony counts that could have each carried a prison sentence of up to three years. However, prosecutors reduced the charges to "selling a mislabeled dietary substance" after the Federal Trade Commission settled fraud charges in June against several other larger companies marketing colloidal silver over the Internet. U.S. Attorney spokesperson Tom Mrozek said officials reduced the charges against Tondre because he was a "small bit player" who was "basically selling snake oil." Colloidal silver is "touted" by some as an "antibiotic alternative" because of its supposed "germicidal properties." Analysis of Tondre's EXP determined that the $50-a-bottle mixture was only tap water "laced with microscopic" bits of the silver. Tondre was arrested after federal investigators, posing as possible customers, bought several bottles of his supposed cure. He will likely serve probation instead of prison time, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Johns said (Reuters, 7/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.