A Brooklyn man named Baruch Feldheim was arrested for hoarding huge stockpiles of face masks and other medical supplies and for coughing on FBI agents after claiming he had the coronavirus.
Feldheim, 43, was charged with assault and making false statements to law enforcement after the FBI raided his home amid reports that he was price-gouging.
The Department of Justice said Feldman housed a massive stockpile of medical supplies at his Brooklyn home and at an auto repair shop in Irvington, New Jersey.
The supplies included enough N95 respirator masks, hand sanitizers, Clorox wipes, chemical cleaning agents, and surgical supplies to outfit an entire hospital.
“Feldheim allegedly sold certain designated materials — including N95 respirators — to doctors and nurses at inflated prices,” the U.S. Attorneys Office in New Jersey explained in a statement.
“On March 29, 2020, FBI agents witnessed multiple instances during which individuals approached Feldheim’s residence and walked away with boxes or bags that appeared to contain medical supplies.
FBI agents approached Feldheim outside of his residence. After identifying themselves as FBI agents, they told Feldheim that they wanted to stay a distance away from him given concerns over the spread of Coronavirus. When the agents were within four to five feet of him, Feldheim allegedly coughed in their direction without covering his mouth.
The agents then told him that they were looking for certain PPE [personal protection equipment] materials and that they had information that Feldheim was in possession of large quantities of such materials. At that point, Feldheim told the FBI agents that that he had the Coronavirus.”
The Department of Justice said Feldheim agreed to sell a New Jersey doctor about 1,000 face masks for $12,000. That’s a 700% markup.
In another instance, Baruch Feldheim offered to sell a nurse a huge quantity of surgical gowns at an inflated price.
The DOJ said Feldheim then made false statements to FBI agents regarding his possession and sale of the medical supplies.
“He falsely told the agents that he worked for a company that bought and sold personal protective equipment and other materials,” the DOJ said. “Feldheim further falsely stated that he did not possess large quantities of personal protective equipment materials and that he never sold them directly to individuals.”
The arrest comes a week after U.S. Attorney General William Barr warned disaster profiteers that federal agents will crack down on people who try to exploit the suffering of Americans.
(Source: CBS News)
AG Barr said the ban on hoarding doesn’t apply to individual consumers or to businesses that are stockpiling supplies for their own operations.
“We’re talking about people hoarding these goods and materials on an industrial scale for the purposes of manipulating the market and ultimately driving windfall profits,” Barr said. “If you have a big supply of toilet paper in your house, this is not something you have to worry about. But if you are sitting on a warehouse with masks, surgical masks, you will be hearing a knock on your door.”
On March 6, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sounded the alarm, saying people are stealing face masks and other medical equipment from local hospitals as the coronavirus panic ramps up.
“Not just people taking a couple or three, I mean just actual thefts of those products,” Cuomo said. “I’ve asked the state police to do an investigation.”
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