SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) — The Utah man accused of selling false COVID-19 cures throughout the pandemic filed a motion to represent himself following his arrest earlier this week.
Gordon Pedersen, 63, of Cedar Hills, Utah was arrested on Monday, Aug. 14, after a three-year manhunt for allegedly selling an unproven coronavirus cure and posing as a doctor. Pedersen is now claiming he wants to represent himself in the trial.
His initial hearing was Tuesday, Aug. 15, where they were set to read his criminal indictment and do an initial arraignment. However, according to federal court documents, Pedersen wishes to represent himself, and a hearing must be held before the state can continue.
According to the Supreme Court, in 1975, it was decided that state courts can not compel persons representing themselves (pro se litigants) to use an attorney unless the person’s conduct is of “serious,” “obstructionist,” “extreme,” “aggravated,” “noisy, disorderly, and disruptive,” nature, or of a nature that it is virtually or “wholly impossible to carry on” with the court’s proceeding. A Faretta hearing determines if a person is fit to represent themselves according to these stipulations.
Pedersen’s Faretta hearing is set for Aug. 18 at 1 p.m. before Magistrate Judge Jared C. Bennet. During the hearing, he will reportedly attempt to convince the judge that he can represent himself.
Pedersen is criminally charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, and felony introduction of misbranded drugs into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud and mislead.
According to court documents, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, before approved vaccines were available Pedersen sold a “structural alkaline silver” product that he claimed, “resonates, or vibrates, at a frequency that destroys the membrane of the virus, making the virus incapable of attaching to any healthy cell, or to infect you in any way.”
Pedersen also allegedly claimed he was a physician, and wore a stethoscope and white lab coat in videos and photos posted on the internet to “further his alleged fraud scheme,” a news release from the U.S. Dept. of Justice states. He posted the information under the name
“My Doctor Suggests.”
According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Pedersen was also given a civil restraining order to shut down fraudulent claims of his COVID-19 cure-all. The civil case is being handled by the Department of Justice, Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel A. Ferre, with support from the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline via the NCDF Web Complaint Form, the news release states.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.