Biotech Exec Gets 7 Years in Prison for False Claims About Rapid Covid-19 Test

The former chief executive of a biotechnology company who, during the early days of the pandemic, falsely claimed that he had invented a blood test that could detect Covid-19 in 15 seconds was sentenced on Friday to seven years in prison for securities fraud, federal prosecutors said.

From February 2020 to December 2020, the former executive, Keith Berman, 70, of Westlake Village, Calif., engaged in a scheme to defraud people into investing in his company, Decision Diagnostics Corporation, by claiming the test could detect Covid using a finger prick sample of blood, prosecutors said.

In March and April 2020, Mr. Berman issued 12 “false and misleading” news releases describing the rapid Covid test, which his company called GenViro, prosecutors wrote. Decision Diagnostics’ stock price jumped by more than 1,500 percent during the period, prosecutors said.

In reality, prosecutors said, Mr. Berman had “privately confided in a friend the test could not actually detect Covid-19.”

Leave a Comment