NEW YORK -- Two men are accused of trying to sell 1 million KN95 face masks in New York City at double or triple the purchase price, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday.
Kent Bulloch and William Young, Sr. are charged with violating the Defense Production Act after allegedly seeking investors to sell the respirator masks to as the COVID-19 outbreak spread across the country between March and April, according to court filings.
Bulloch, an attorney, is also accused of creating and signing an escrow agreement with a purported investor to conceal the price gouging, the court filings state.
What the pair did not account for was that the purported investor they targeted was an undercover federal law enforcement agent, according to officials.
President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act in March, making it illegal to hoard or price gouge medical supplies such as masks as the nation grapples with the pandemic.
“As alleged, the defendants conspired to turn a huge profit from the urgent need for surgical masks in New York during the pandemic,” United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue said in a statement. “When the attorney general said that those engaged in price gouging should expect a knock on the door, he meant it and when we knock with one hand, we usually have a warrant in the other.”
Bulloch was arrested Monday in California and was expected to appear via teleconference in federal court in San Francisco. Young will appear via teleconference in federal court in Phoenix.
If convicted, Bulloch and Young could face up to a year in prison.
This story was originally published by Lauren Cook at WPIX.