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By Dries Van Thielen
On June 30, a jury in Lexington, Kentucky sentenced Samuel A. Girod, a decennia-long Amish entrepreneur in natural skin products, to six years in federal prison.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, his products weren’t properly labeled and his products were not advertised in a way that did comply with the law…
The story starts in 2013 when FDA officials wanted to inspect Mr. Girod’s farm for TO-MOR-GONE, a product that claims to solve certain skin conditions. Earlier that year, the Federal Court in Missouri warned Mr. Girod that he would be barred from selling his product unless FDA agents could inspect his property. Mr. Girod refused to let the agents in for they did not have a proper warrant – according to some sources.
“I do not waive my immunity to this court!”
Four years later, Mr. Girod represented himself in court – supported by stand-by attorney Michael Fox (not to be confused with the actor). In his defense, Girod argued that the FDA was not to be involved in the case for they obstructed his religious freedom. The Amish isolate themselves from the modern world – including pharmaceuticals. Also, Mr. Girod claimed that his products weren’t subject to Federal Drug Administration oversight because they were herbal remedies, not drugs.
On the other side, the Federal Prosecutors accused Mr. Girod of “knowingly and intentionally selling misbranded products to customers”. The jury believed these claims and found him guilty which resulted in this jail sentence.
Mr. Fox felt defeated after the verdict. He told WCLU Radio: “Sam Girod does not want to hurt anyone, and the evidence at trial was that no one was ever hurt. His punishment of six years in prison is a harsh punishment.”
“Interrupting the free exchange of products is absurd”
Almost 100 supporters awaited the verdict outside the courthouse. When The Lexington Herald Leader asked one of them why the federal government intervened in Mr. Girod’s business, he told the journalists: [His self-discovered natural remedy] has angered federal officials. So they swooped in and they – as they have to power to do so – have thrown him in jail. […] We are not harming anyone. If there were actual victims in this case, then certainly, federal intervention would be in place. But there are no victims, there is only mutual benefit in this case. Interrupting this free exchange of ideas, products, throwing him in jail and giving him large fines is just absurd”.
Free Mr. Girod!
The Bath County entrepreneur receives support from the internet. In a tweet, Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) condemned the verdict. The Kentucky Representative urged President Trump to pardon Mr. Girod. Also, You can sign a petition to release Mr. Girod from prison here. As of this writing, almost 29,000 individuals signed the petition.