A Brooklyn man claiming to be infected with the coronavirus coughed on FBI agents who were investigating him for hoarding and selling medical supplies, the US Attorney’s Office said Monday.
Baruch Feldheim, 43, is facing charges of assault and making false statements to the feds on Sunday outside his Borough Park home where he allegedly peddled and stored massive amounts of N95 respirator masks, federal officials said.
FBI agents said they approached Feldheim at his home after observing several individuals walking away from his door with boxes that they believed contained medical equipment.
“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,” the DOJ said in a statement. “When the agents were within four to five feet of him, Feldheim allegedly coughed in their direction without covering his mouth.”
Feldheim then told the agents he was infected with COVID-19, according to DOJ.
As a result, Feldheim was arrested and charged with assaulting a federal officer, as well as making false statements after prosecutors said he repeatedly lied about his possession and sale of the equipment.
Feldheim is also accused of price-gouging. According to the criminal complaint against him, Feldheim agreed to sell a New Jersey doctor “approximately 1,000 N95 masks” and other materials for $12,000, “an approximately 700 percent markup from the normal price,” prosecutors said. When Feldheim told the doctor the location of the materials, the man went to a repair shop that held enough medical supplies “to outfit an entire hospital,” the Justice Department said.
The materials included hand sanitizers, Clorox wipes, chemical cleaning agents and surgical supplies.
By last Monday, Feldheim was operating from his Brooklyn home, offering to push surgical gowns to a nurse, the feds said.
Two days later, the suspected hoarder received a gigantic shipment at his home of about eight pallets of face masks.
FBI agents then staked out his house, first noticing empty boxes of N95 masks outside.
He falsely told the agents that he worked for a company that bought and sold PPE and that he never took physical custody of the materials, according to The Post.
Following Feldheim’s arrest, the FBI on Monday night raided a warehouse on Pennsylvania Avenue in an industrial section of Linden, NJ, that housed Feldhim’s suspected stash of 80,000 masks, a source said.
The arrest follows a nationwide campaign encouraged by the DOJ and FBI to crack down on those who may seek to use the current national emergency to hoard much-needed medical supplies and sell them at prices far above market value.