Request for criminal probe of Fauci has no legal weight | Fact check

The claim: Fauci was charged with murder in Louisiana

A June 14 article (direct link, archive link) claims Dr. Anthony Fauci is facing criminal charges in one southern state.

“Fauci Under Fire: Louisiana DAs File Criminal Charges for First Degree Murder and Racketeering,” reads the headline from a site called Opera News.

Another version of the claim spread widely on X, formerly Twitter, while a similar article on a satirical website was shared on Facebook.

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Our rating: False

There is no evidence Fauci has been charged with any crimes in Louisiana. Two law firms said they submitted a request to district attorneys in Louisiana in an effort to trigger a criminal investigation into Fauci for various alleged crimes. Experts told USA TODAY the request carries no legal weight and officials can opt to ignore it.

Law firms' request to district attorneys is 'an accusation'

There is no announcement of any such charges against Fauci on the Louisiana Attorney General’s website, nor are there reports of it from legitimate news outlets.

The claim stems from a June 17 news release from the Florida-based Vires Law Group, which describes itself as an advocate for people against “lawless actors” and “tyranny,” and Louisiana-based Edward L. Tarpley, APLC. Tarpley previously served as a district attorney for the 35th Judicial District in Grant Parish, Louisiana, according to the Louisiana State Bar Association.

The news release said the firms sent a 30-page “criminal referral request” with exhibits to nine Louisiana district attorneys. They're hoping the district attorneys will subsequently get Attorney General Liz Murrill to open an investigation into Fauci and other officials for alleged crimes, including first and second-degree murder, human trafficking, false imprisonment and second-degree kidnapping.

“On behalf of residents of the State of Louisiana and constituents of Attorney General Murrill, we respectfully request that this Office thoroughly investigate the evidence presented herein,” the letter reads. “Presuming sufficient evidence, we request that the Office pursue indictment and prosecution.”

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But the law firms' request to the district attorneys is not a criminal referral and doesn’t carry any legal weight, experts told USA TODAY.

“Anyone or any group can contact local police, state police, sheriffs, district attorneys and/or the attorney general … and report facts and evidence they believe constitute criminal activity,” said Louisiana-based criminal law attorney Jim Boren.

The news release in several places refers to the firms' action as a criminal referral, but in another section the release said the firms asked the district attorneys to submit a criminal referral to Murrill. But it's not a criminal referral.

Criminal referrals happen between government entities, like Congress submitting a criminal referral to the Justice Department, said Louisiana State University law professor Ken Levy.

The district attorneys and attorney general may choose to respond to the firms’ request, but they have no obligation to do so.

“All this is is an accusation, and the norm for law enforcement is to entertain the accusation and then to determine if there are sufficient grounds to move forward with an investigation,” Levy said.

Vires Law Group attorney Rachel Rodriguez referred to the firms' action as a “request for criminal investigation and referral of the investigations” and told USA TODAY the news release “speaks for itself.”

The Vires Law Group previously announced similar actions in Texas and Florida.

Fauci voluntarily testified at a contentious June 3 House subcommittee hearing in which Republican members repeated baseless accusations against him. Fauci said such allegations have led to death threats against him and his family.

USA TODAY has debunked an array of claims about Fauci, including false assertions that Special Forces arrested him in April 2022, that he admitted masks were a failure and that he said unvaccinated people “must be locked down” in winter 2023.

USA TODAY reached out to Murrill's office and users who shared the post for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

Our fact-check sources:

  • Jim Boren, June 20, Email exchange with USA TODAY

  • Ken Levy, June 20, Phone call with USA TODAY

  • Rachel Rodriguez, June 17, Email exchange with USA TODAY

  • Vires Law Group, accessed June 20, News

  • Louisiana Office of the Attorney General, accessed June 17, News

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: False claim Fauci charged with murder in Louisiana | Fact check