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FBI charge man who allegedly tried selling masks at 700 per cent markup
TORONTO -- A New York man who allegedly sold much needed medical equipment to doctors and nurses at inflated prices has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice, Baruch Feldheim, 43, had allegedly agreed to sell approximately 1,000 N95 masks to a doctor for US$12,000 on March 18. The justice department stated the price was marked up nearly 700 per cent.
Authorities say a doctor was directed to an auto shop in New Jersey, where the doctor said Feldheim had enough hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, chemical cleaning agents and surgical supplies to “outfit an entire hospital.”
According to the statement, Feldheim also received a shipment from Canada on March 25 that contained approximately eight pallets of medical face masks.
FBI agents said they witnessed people coming to Feldheim’s house on Tuesday and walking away “with boxes or bags that appeared to contain medical supplies.”
When FBI agents approached Feldheim that same day, they warned him they wanted to stay a safe distance from him over coronavirus fears. According to the statement, Feldheim allegedly coughed in their direction without covering his mouth.
When the agents told him they were looking for personal protective equipment (PPE), Feldheim allegedly told the agents he had COVID-19.
Feldheim was arrested and charged with making false statements to law enforcement. It’s alleged he told the FBI he worked for a company that bought and sold PPE, and that he did not possess a large quantity of protective gear.
Feldheim was also charged with assaulting a federal officer.
Large haul donated to New York, New Jersey
On Thursday, the Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services released a statement, saying they had raided a trove of medical supplies from an alleged hoarder.
The haul, which will be donated to the New York and New Jersey health departments, included:
- 192,000 N95 respirator masks
- 598,000 medical grade gloves
- 130,000 surgical masks
- Surgical gowns
- Bottles of hand sanitizer and spray disinfectant
It’s unclear if this cache of items is connected to Feldheim. The statement did not name the suspected hoarder, but said the individual would be paid pre-COVID-19 “fair market value” for the supplies.