When most people imagine their golden years, they don’t envision spending the last decades of their life in a federal prison, but for 56-year-old Samuel Girod, that threat is very real — thanks to the FDA. Girod is facing 68 years in jail for the simple crime of creating his own all-natural homemade products. Father to 12 and grandfather to 25, Girod has been facing a 12-count indictment since 2015.
Trouble first arose for the Amish farmer back in 2013, when someone reported his homemade products to the state health department of Missouri. An injunction was put in place by a federal judge in the state, banning Girod from making some of his products until specific conditions were met. One of those conditions was an inspection of the property where Girod’s products were made — prompting the state of Kentucky to become involved. Production of these homemade, natural products reportedly took place at Girod’s family home, somewhere along Satterfield Lane in Bath County.
Bath County residents were seemingly appalled when they learned of their neighbor’s fate. “I can’t even figure out what he has done wrong. They live at the foot of the cross and the thought of one of them intentionally doing something wrong is outrageous,” Suza Moody, a fellow Bath County resident commented.
Family friend Sally Oh said, “They are just devastated. I mean when they brought him out in handcuffs. It was awful.” Oh went on to say that the FDA had taken issue with the way some of Girod’s products were labeled. Girod’s Chickweed Salve was a particular point of contention. According to Oh, the salve’s ingredients include rosemary, beeswax, olive oil.
“It said ‘Chickweed Salve’ up top, then on down said ‘Cures Cancer.’ Which for some people it did, but he can’t say that. So he changed it to say ‘Healing Chickweed,’ but they said no you can’t say healing. So now it just says ‘Original Chickweed,’” she explained.
Moody questioned whether or not the proposed punishment really fit the crime. “I mean do you go to jail because you’ve messed up a label on a product?”
“I thought you went to jail because you did something bad. I mean he mislabeled something? I doubt he knew any better,” she added.
According to the FDA, Girod is also guilty of handing out pamphlets that advertised his products’ efficacy in the treatment of a variety of conditions. Because of those claims, the FDA says the products are defined as drugs, under the federal food, drug, and cosmetic act — even though multiple tests have shown no drugs are used in the products.
Defined drugs are also required to have their place of production registered with the FDA. Unsurprisingly, the Girod farm is not registered — and they likely did not know the salves they were making could be construed as “drugs.”
Another one of Girod’s products, TO-MOR-GONE, has also come under fire. The product is said to be “very good at removing tumors,” and also contains bloodroot — which can be caustic and cause scarring. This, the FDA alleges, makes for much more than a simple labeling mistake. Along with all of this, the FDA claims that Girod prevented their agents from entering the family home to “inspect” the conditions, and allege that he continued to sell his products after the injunction was placed.
Since 2015, Girod has fired his appointed attorney and has chosen to represent himself. WKYT reports, “The Amish farmer filed a motion to dismiss his case, citing a lack of due process, lack of standing, and lack of jurisdiction. A judge denied the motion and set a status conference back in August.”
Girod missed the status hearing, Ms. Oh believes that he simply did not understand he had to be there. A warrant was then issued for his arrest.
Due to the increasingly volatile nature of the situation, the Bath County Sheriff reportedly wrote a letter to the authorities involved, citing his concerns about the “ongoing ruthless and relentless attack against one of his constituents.” The letter also noted that Girod had been placed in the protective custody of his office.
For about five months, Girod was considered a “fugitive” and was arrested at the family farm in Janurary. He now waits in jail without bail until his trial date arrives, which is scheduled for late February.
The real issue here is the fact that the FDA is persecuting a man with no ill intent: the so-called crimes he committed with no malicious intent, and his products have reportedly never harmed anyone. And yet, the FDA approves drugs that don’t work and come with horrible side effects, as long they are listed on the label. The agency has even banned intravenous vitamin C, so it’s not that surprising that they’re throwing the book at Girod.
The extreme punishment being proposed for Girod is far and away from fitting the “crime” he committed — not that you can really call it a crime; a mistake perhaps. His failure to understand the inner-workings of the corrupt FDA system does not warrant 68 years of imprisonment.
Child rapists go free while an Amish man will likely spend the rest of his life in prison for making salves. And this is what we’re supposed to believe justice looks like?