A professional New York City arm wrestling champion and his mother were in a legal jam Wednesday after they were accused of selling a bogus cancer cure with an over-the-top name — “Apricots from God.”
Jason Vale claimed on his website that he was successfully battling “the most aggressive” kind of kidney cancer by ingesting apricot seeds and posted videos of himself besting arm wrestling opponents at competitions as proof of his renewed health.
“The Answer to Cancer is known,” Vale, 51, wrote on his site. “I’m eating the seeds daily. About 20 a day.”
Vale and his mom, Barbara Vale, were arrested at her home in the borough of Queens, authorities said. The city’s Department of Environmental Protection was called in to remove liquid-filled drums of what police determined to be hazardous materials from the garage.
The Vales have not yet appeared before a federal judge and no charges were listed in the 15-page complaint released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York that outlined the allegations against them.
The strong-armed Jason Vale has long touted the dubious healing power of apricot seeds, which are found inside the pits of the fruit.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
They contain amygdalin, a compound also called laetrile that was first popularized back in the 1970s as a cancer cure — which the FDA has dismissed.
This is not the first time Jason Vale has been accused of selling laetrile, another name for amygdalin.
Back in 2003, he was convicted of criminal contempt after he was caught promoting and selling “laetrile as a cure for cancer” over the internet — in defiance of a judge’s injunction to stop, according to the complaint. He was sentenced to 63 months in prison.
Despite that, Vale continued to sing the praises of apricot seeds, including in a 2016 interview he did with The Verge.
“When I ate the seeds, my tumor shrunk down and when I stopped eating the seeds the tumor grew,” he claimed.
In 2013, Jason Vale and his mom launched the Apricotsfromgod.info website and were soon posting testimonials to the supposed effectiveness of apricot seeds in combating cancer, the complaint states.
Not only that, the Vales brazenly defended their alleged actions online and made unverifiable claims like, “we have had over a 90 percent success rate with the apricot seeds and other aids, but our records do not matter.”
Meanwhile, the money rolled in, according to the complaint.
Mother and son, the court papers say, charged $250 (plus $27.75 for shipping and handling) for three pounds of apricot seeds, three bottles of vitamins and a DVD about their “cure.”
And between January 2012 and September, they collected more than $850,000 in payments via their Pay Pal account.
Staring last year, FDA investigators began building their case against the Vales by making “undercover purchases” from the website.