FBI agents caught a Brooklyn man, who claimed to be diagnosed with COVID-19, stockpiling medical supplies. When agents arrived to investigate the man Monday night, he deliberately coughed on them.
According to the New York Post, Brooklyn resident Baruch Feldheim, 43, is facing charges of assault and making false statements to federal agents after he allegedly stockpiled medical necessities such as N95 respirator masks.
FBI agents staked out Feldheim’s house when they noticed the suspect left empty N95 mask boxes outside his residence. Two days after the stakeout began, agents saw Feldheim receive eight pallets worth of face masks from Canada.
Agents said they witnessed people approach Feldheim’s front door empty-handed and leave with what they believe to be medical supplies.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, when FBI agents approached Feldheim, he coughed in their direction without covering his mouth. When the agents said they were looking for personal protective equipment (PPE) and had information he was in possession of large quantities, Feldheim told the agents he had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Feldheim is also being accused of price-gouging essential medical products. Authorities believe Feldheim sold a New Jersey doctor approximately 1,000 masks for $12,000. Prior to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, an N95 respirator mask sold for approximately 58 cents.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office report, another New Jersey doctor went to an auto repair shop to pick up an order of medical supplies from Feldheim, who communicated with doctors and nurses via a WhatsApp group titled “Virus2020!” The doctor told investigators that Feldheim had enough medical supplies to “outfit an entire hospital.”
According to the doctor, the repair shop contained materials such as hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, chemical cleaning supply agents, and surgical supplies.
When the FBI questioned Feldheim about his possession of the medical equipment, he said he was employed by a company that bought and sold PPE. He also claimed the PPE was not inside his residence.
This arrest comes after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ignored President Donald Trump’s claims that medical supplies were being stockpiled and stolen from New York City hospitals.
“It’s insulting, it’s outrageous, it’s incredibly insensitive to people right now who are giving their all,” de Blasio said on NY1.
Feldheim’s nefarious actions have intense consequences for medical professionals risking their lives in the United States epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak — especially as medical professionals beg for members of the public to donate medical supplies and other such PPE.
On March 24, Trump signed an executive order making it illegal to stockpile medical supplies.
“If you are sitting on a warehouse with surgical masks, you will be hearing a knock on your door,” said Attorney General William Barr.