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California man charged with coronavirus-linked fraud

by Ambrose Metters (2020-03-28)

Having dark americano coffee outsideBit-part actor and bodybuilder Keith Middlebrook, 53, has been arrested on a federal wire fraud charge for allegedly peddling fake coronavirus cures 

A small-time California actor and bodybuilder was arrested on Wednesday on a federal wire fraud charge for soliciting investments in a company that would market phony medicine promising to cure and prevent the coronavirus.

A criminal complaint against Keith Middlebrook, 53, alleges that he 'claimed to have personally developed a 'patent-pending cure and a treatment that prevents coronavirus infection, even though every major health authority has warned that there is no specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19 and no vaccine to prevent coronavirus infection,' the statement said.

Middlebrook, a native of Hawaii who has appeared in bit parts in nearly two dozen movies and TV shows over the years, including Iron Man 2 and 3 Moneyball and Thor, has been peddling his bogus COVID-19 cures on Instagram.

He was arrested during a meeting in which he delivered pills to an undercover FBI agent who was posing as an investor. 

Federal officials say Middlebrook has been peddling his bogus COVID-19 medications on his Instagram page boasting 2.4million followers 

Within the past week, Middlebrook has released three videos offering an injection to cure the coronavirus (left) and a pill to prevent contracting the disease, which he said he  has been taking daily after developing it himself 

Within the past week, Middlebrook has released three videos on the social media platform where he has 2.4million followers boasting about his purported pharmaceutical breakthroughs. The clips have drawn more than 2million views combined as of Thursday morning.  

According to an affidavit, Middlebrook fraudulently solicited investments with promises of massive profits for a company he called Quantum Prevention CV Inc, and he falsely claimed that NBA legend Earvin 'Magic' Johnson was a member of the board of directors.

'Mr. Johnson confirmed to investigators that he knew nothing about Middlebrook's company,' the document stated. 

Middlebrook told undercover agents posing as investors that his company would mass-produce the pills he claimed would prevent COVID-19. 

In a text message exchange with a cooperating witness, Middlebrook allegedly said, 'I have Developed the Cure for the CoronaVirus COVID-19…LA Patient tested Positive for CoronaVirus got up and walked out 51 hours after my Injection,' according to the affidavit. 

Middlebrook repeatedly said that he has been in contact with President Donald Trump and was going to get an executive order to 'override the FDA' so he could distribute his cures 

In the same text message, Middlebrook also wrote, 'Investors who come in at ground level say $1M will parachute with $200M - $300M…Conservative Minimum.' 

In a video posted eight days ago to his Instagram account, Middlebrook stated that he had created the cure for COVID-19, and he showed viewers a syringe with a clear liquid and described how his cure worked.

'After studying cell tissue and chemical biology for many years, I have created a cure for COV 19...COVID 19, the coronavirus, this is it right here,' Middlebrook says in the video while displaying the syringe. 

Middlebrook offers a vague explanation of how his cure works and then launches into a story of how he injected the medicine into a coronavirus patient who had walked into a Los Angeles hospital suffering from 103 degree fever, cough and body aches. 

According to Middlebrook, the patient walked out of the hospital 51 hours later with all of his vital signs back to normal and 'coronavirus negative.' 

'So this is the cure right here going into mass production, and this is going to save and change the world,' Middlebrook says in the video. 'So yes, I have a meeting set up with president Donald Trump. This is going into live play action right now to save the world.'

In a caption accompanying the recording, Middlebrook wrote that he developed the cure after six weeks of 'intense focus' and 'very little sleep,' and that patients taking it would stay immune to coronavirus 'as long as long as they continue taking it once a day it the morning.' 

Feds say that Middlebrook has met with an undercover agent and solicited a $300,000 investment in his company that would market his coronavirus pills

In another Instagram video that was viewed more than 1 million times over approximately three days, Middlebrook shows a pill he says prevents him from contracting COVID-19 and 'states that if he took the pill and walked into the Staples Center filled with COVID-19 positive individuals, he could not contract the virus,' according to the criminal complaint.

'I have what makes you immune to coronavirus,' Middlebrook says in the video, which was still up on his page as of late Thursday morning. 'It's already done. I've already got it.

'I take one of these every morning and I go unscathe [sic]. I'm not afraid to go into a grocery store, or a gym, or anywhere in public because as long as I take this once in the morning, I'm good. If someone has coronavirus positive, I'll give them a hug, sit down, have a conversation with them and take them to dinner. That's right. I have no fear because I'm immune. My cell membrane walls cannot be...cannot contract the coronavirus.'

Middlebrook goes on to claim that he is planning to travel to President Trump's Florida estate Mar-o-Lago and get an 'executive emergency order to override the FDA' so he could distribute the cure. 

He also posted a message in the comments sections to his detractors: 'All Haters and Ignorant comments are Deleted and Blocked as Fast as they post. Give your incompetence and Negative Energy to someone who has time to waste with you and tolerate your worthless low self-esteem a**. * I am busy saving the world. If you have any kind of questions pertaining to where and how you can make use of and honored by Avvo with the Clients Choice Award, you could call us at our own webpage. * The Medical, Virus and Disease communities are lazy and trying to use old tricks on a new dog.'

Middlebrook, a native of Hawaii who has appeared in bit parts in nearly two dozen movies and TV shows, including 'Horrible Bosses' (pictured) and 'Iron Man 3' 

According to the affidavit, Middlebrook made claims and promises to the undercover agent, including guaranteeing that a $300,000 investment would yield $30million, a promise that was secured 'by a current $10 billion offer from an unnamed buyer in Dubai.'  

United States Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement that this may be the first federal criminal case in the nation related to the coronavirus pandemic.  

'There's a particular opportunistic cruelty in seeking to profit based on the fear and helplessness of others,' said Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. 'As the country reacts to the current crisis, and while many suffer from losing a loved one or losing their livelihood, the last thing Americans need are con-artists who hawk miracle cures they know are not tested, guaranteed, nor approved. ' 

Middlebrook could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the wire fraud charge.