Authorities have seized nearly a million medical supplies from a Brooklyn man who has been accused of hoarding the items.
The stockpile included 192,000 N95 respirators, 130,000 surgical masks, and nearly 600,000 medical-grade gloves that 43-year-old Baruch Feldheim was housing in a price-gouging plot. In addition, they were also able to recover disinfectant towels, surgical gowns, particulate filters, hand sanitizer, and spray disinfectant.
According to the FBI, Feldheim charged a doctor $12,000 last month for a large order of masks, gowns, and hazmat gear at a 700 percent markup. When the doctor went to retrieve his order at an auto repair shop in Irvington, N.J. that was being used as a warehouse for the operation, he discovered large amounts of pallets filled with medical gear, Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer that it would have been enough to supply an entire hospital, a criminal complaint stated.
Upon being confronted by federal agents on Sunday, Feldheim coughed in their direction and told them that he had tested positive for the Coronavirus. He was then arrested on Monday and also charged with one count of assault on a federal officer, according to the criminal complaint.
The defense attorney representing him, James Moriarty, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday night, but did deny the charges, according to Reuters.
In a statement on Thursday, Alex M. Azar II, the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary, said, “Cracking down on the hoarding of vital supplies allows us to distribute this material to the heroic health care workers on the front lines who are most in need.”
The shortage of masks and other personal protective equipment or PPE is putting a strain on the healthcare field, particularly in the New York metropolitan region, which is an epicenter of the United States Coronavirus pandemic. Luckily, all items that were seized were handed over to medical personnel in New York and New Jersey after being inspected.