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Federal Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn initially enjoined Vale and his company, Christian Brothers Contracting Corp., from marketing or promoting his seeds in a 2000 ruling after a civil suit was brought by the Food and Drug Administration. The federal agency maintained that Vale sold his purported cure--called variously Laetrile, amygdalin or Vitamin B-17 illegally as it had not been approved for consumption.
In July 2003, Vale, of 82-50 235th St., was found guilty of criminal contempt for setting up a shell corporation in Arizona to continue his operation in defiance of the court order. That charge prompted Gleeson to sentence Vale to five years and three months in jail.
"This office will not tolerate any disregard for the lawful orders of this court," U.S. Attorney Roslynn Mauskopf said. "Nor will it tolerate fraud, especially when it foists dangerous products on a vulnerable public."
Evidence introduced during the civil suit showed Laetrile has no known effect on cancer and can actually break down into toxic cyanide gas inside the body, the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn said. Prosecutors also suggested that Vale's claims of a miracle cure led cancer sufferers to forgo traditional treatments.
Reached at Vale's Bellerose Manor address, his grandmother referred all questions to his parents, who live in the same neighborhood.
Vale's parents did not return phone calls seeking comment, but a Web site claiming to represent his legal defense fund said Vale was a former world arm wrestling champion who developed cancer at the age of 18. Discovering a new cure in apricot seeds, Vale is said to have made a full recovery, thanks to vitamins found in the pits and his faith in God. He then set out to help other cancer victims.
The civil suit claimed that Vale sent out massive amounts of unsolicited e-mail, or spam, to advertise his claims. When he was ordered to stop, he wrote on his Web sites that he could no longer sell his cure but referred customers to another unrelated company in Arizona. In fact, the U.S. Attorney's office said, the number went straight to Vale's house, and when he and his employees shipped out his product, they stamped boxes with a Phoenix return address.
An undercover investigation revealed Vale was storing enough of his cure in his basement to supply a single person for 242 years, the U.S. attorney's office said. Vale said he was on a mission from God, the office said.
The Web site apparently associated with Vale, Seed of Faith, said he had received testimonials from thousands of satisfied customers.
Once he is released from prison, Vale faces three years on probation. He must also pay a $31,000 fine for falsely claiming the right to Legal Aid services.
Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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