A Huntington Beach man who allegedly sought financing to mass produce an unproven pill he said would prevent COVID-19 and an injectable cure for those already suffering from the virus was indicted Friday on federal fraud charges.
Keith Lawrence Middlebrook was named in an indictment that charges him with 11 counts of wire fraud stemming from solicitations he allegedly made to potential investors in Nevada, New York, Texas and Colorado.
“Through text messages, videos, and statements sent to potential investors and posted on the internet, including on Instagram and YouTube, defendant Middlebrook falsely claimed to have developed a cure for the COVID-19 virus, which he called `QC20,’ and a treatment that prevented a person from being infected by the COVID-19 virus, which he called `QP20,”’ according to the indictment filed in federal court in Los Angeles.
The indictment alleges that Middlebrook claimed to have personally developed a “patent-pending” cure and a treatment to prevent coronavirus infection, even though health organizations both within the United States and abroad confirmed that there was no vaccine or specific antiviral medicine then known to prevent or treat COVID-19, according to the indictment.
An arraignment date has not been scheduled. Each of the 11 counts of wire fraud alleged in the indictment carries a penalty of up to 20 years in federal prison.
Middlebrook — who is associated with several addresses, including residences in Westwood, Newport Beach and Murrieta — was arrested in March while delivering the pills to an undercover FBI agent posing as an investor, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Prior to his arrest, Middlebrook allegedly told the undercover agent that a $300,000 investment would yield $30 million in returns.
Middlebrook, 52, is accused of fraudulently soliciting funds with promises of massive profits for a company he called Quantum Prevention CV Inc., and falsely telling a potential investor that Basketball Hall of Fame member turned businessman Earvin “Magic” Johnson was a member of the board of directors, court papers show.
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 a cure for those already suffering from 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 coronavirus, prosecutors allege.
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.
A judge released Middlebrook on a $150,000 bond in May, and issued an order preventing him from promoting or having anything to do with COVID-19 cures or preventions.
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