A federal magistrate judge Friday granted bail for a Southern California man who allegedly sought financing to mass-produce an unproven pill he said would prevent and cure COVID-19.
Keith Lawrence Middlebrook — who is associated with several addresses, including residences in Westwood, Newport Beach and Murrieta — was arrested Wednesday while delivering the pills to an undercover FBI agent posing as an investor, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The judge Friday set bond at $150,000, secured by affidavit of surety signed by the 53-year-old defendant’s mother and posting of $50,000 of equity in her home. After his release, a court order prevents him from promoting or having anything to do with COVID-19 cures or preventions, and he is prohibited from using social media to promote anything.
An April 9 preliminary hearing and April 16 arraignment hearing were set previously.
Prior to his arrest, Middlebrook allegedly told the undercover agent that a $300,000 investment would yield $30 million in returns.
Middlebrook is accused of fraudulently soliciting funds with promises of massive profits for a company he called Quantum Prevention CV Inc. (QP20), and falsely claimingto at least one potential investor that former NBA star-turned-businessman Earvin “Magic” Johnson was a member of the board of directors, according to an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint.
Johnson confirmed to investigators that he knew nothing about Middlebrook’s company, federal prosecutors said.
Middlebrook allegedly wrote to a cooperating witness in the investigation that he had developed the cure for COVID-19, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
More than two million people watched Middlebrook’s YouTube and Instagram videos, where authorities say he falsely claimed to have developed a COVID-19 prevention pill and a cure for those already infected with the novel coronavirus, prosecutors said.
In a video posted to his Instagram account, Middlebrook said that because of the pill, he could walk into Staples Center filled with infected people and not contract the virus, according to prosecutors.
Middlebrook is charged with one felony count of attempted wire fraud, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison.