NAPA, Calif. - A Napa doctor has been arrested for allegedly offering fake COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination cards.
Juli Mazi, 41, is a state licensed naturopath, whose web site touts holistic remedies to various ailments.
But Wednesday morning, the FBI served a warrant at her California Avenue apartment, breaking down her front door in the process.
Mazi operates her medical practice from her home.
"It's not every day you see the FBI in your neighborhood," said neighbor Suman Rao. "I saw a couple of people in FBI jackets, they were going back and forth into that house."
The case against Mazi began with a tip from someone who claimed she provided his family with pellets to swallow, and claimed they contained tiny amounts of COVID-19, enough to trigger an antibody response.
The patients were allegedly told the pellets would give them lifelong immunity.
Further, investigators say Mazi provided customers with fake CDC vaccination cards, and instructed them to write "Moderna" on them as if they had received the FDA-authorized vaccine.
Mazi's signature appears on the cards, and she purportedly provided actual lot numbers to avoid suspicion.
The Justice Department has not said what was in the oral product and how many people ingested it.
"Pellets, interesting," reacted neighbor Ethan Gladner, somewhat bemused. "It was bound to happen, with everything we've experienced so honestly I'm not surprised, I just didn't think it would happen in our town."
Mazi is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters.
The criminal complaint says Mazi told patients the pellets were effective for children, even babies.
Prosecutors say Mazi told patients that government-approved vaccines contain "toxic ingredients."
"This defendant allegedly defrauded and endangered the public" said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco, in a statement. "Preying on fears and spreading misinformation about authorized vaccines, and peddling fake treatments put people's lives at risk."
The charges stunned many who know Mazi.
"On NextDoor, people are saying this was my doctor, I thought the world of her, I'm shocked," said Lee W. Miller, a Realtor who has known Mazi for about two years.
They met when Mazi relocated her primary care practice from Santa Cruz to Napa, and joined Miller's business referral group.
"Likeable, friendly, always willing to network with other group members," recalled Miller.
He has a difficult time seeing Mazi as motivated by greed.
"To deliberately defraud people for money?" mused Miller. "I'm wondering if her passion for natural, naturopathic medicine, might have moved her in a direction. "I'm very surprised by this allegation and I really hope it's not true and she has an explanation."
Mazi has not yet appeared in court.
Federal officials say the public can report suspected vaccine fraud by calling a hotline at 1-866-720-5721.