Tulare County health tycoon’s cure-all crumbles in court

Huu Tieu pleads guilty in federal court for marketing false remedies to COVID-19 in addition to other ailments during the pandemic

By Mid Valley Times Staff
Published March 28, 2024  • 
11:30 am
A sign for the Emergency C-Virus Plan of Care for COVID-19 from Golden Sunrise Pharmaceutical Inc. as it was found along Highway 198 on July 8, 2020. This photo was found in the complaint file from the Federal Trade Commission against Golden Sunrise. (Federal Trade Commission)
A sign for the Emergency C-Virus Plan of Care for COVID-19 from Golden Sunrise Pharmaceutical Inc. as it was found along Highway 198 on July 8, 2020. This photo was found in the complaint file from the Federal Trade Commission against Golden Sunrise. (Federal Trade Commission)

FRESNO — In a twist reminiscent of old-time snake oil sagas, Huu Tieu, 61, found his elixirs under the harsh spotlight of justice.

Tieu, from Tulare County, pled guilty to selling what amounted to 21st-century snake oil as a miracle cure for ailments including COVID-19 on March 12, according to the Eastern District of California’s U.S. Attorney’s office. 

Tieu, holding the positions of President and CEO at Golden Sunrise Pharmaceutical Inc. and its affiliate, Golden Sunrise Nutraceutical Inc., was involved in the production and promotion of purported health remedies. The company’s offerings were touted as effective treatments for a range of ailments.

Court filings reveal that Tieu initiated the sale of an “Emergency D-Virus Plan of Care” for COVID-19 on March 30, 2020. This plan comprised a kit with vials of Golden Sunrise products, notably “Imunstem,” and a guide. These kits were distributed across and beyond California to various professionals and officials.

The promotional materials for these products, including the accompanying guide, made unfounded claims about their efficacy in combating the virus outbreak in China and other nations. Tieu falsely asserted that ImunStem had received U.S. FDA approval as the first dietary supplement turned prescription medication for COVID-19 treatment in the U.S., a claim debunked by the lack of any FDA endorsement for these products.

The case, stemming from an investigation by the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and the FBI, with support from the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey A. Spivak and Emilia P.E. Morris.

Tieu’s sentencing is scheduled for June 12, 2024, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe, facing up to a year in prison and a fine of $100,000 for each of the three counts. The final sentence will be determined by the court, considering statutory guidelines and factors.

Mid Valley Times Staff