Licensed Pharmacist Charged With Hoarding And Price Gouging Of N95 Masks In Violation Of Defense Production Act
(STL.News) – Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Peter C. Fitzhugh, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Office of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector in Charge of the New York Office of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), and Raymond Donovan, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”), announced the arrest today of Richard Schirripa, a/k/a “the Mask Man,” a licensed pharmacist, on charges of violating the Defense Production Act by hoarding and price gouging scarce N95 masks; making two false statements to law enforcement; committing healthcare fraud; and committing aggravated identity theft. SCHIRRIPA surrendered today and will be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang in Manhattan federal court.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, Richard Schirripa exploited an unprecedented crisis to engage in profiteering. He allegedly spent over $200,000 accumulating N95 masks and then sold masks at inflated prices, charging customers up to 50% more than he had paid to acquire those N95 masks. As alleged, during a sale to an undercover officer, Schirripa said, ‘I feel like a drug dealer.’ He also allegedly committed several additional, unrelated crimes, including lying to law enforcement, defrauding Medicare and Medicaid, and exploiting the personal information of his pharmacy’s customers to fill prescriptions.”
HSI Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh said: “At this time when our nation is battling the COVID-19 pandemic and we expect that our healthcare professionals are standing in solidarity with us, the defendant, Richard Schirripa, a licensed pharmacist, allegedly sought to capitalize and profit from the suffering of others. As the pandemic was starting to take shape in March and April of 2020, Schirripa allegedly began hoarding desperately needed Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). As demand for the PPE was peaking, he then purportedly took the opportunity to sell the hoarded PPE at prices as much as 50% above his acquisition costs. HSI, along with law enforcement partners, and the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, will tirelessly pursue those in our society who choose to put their personal greed and gain ahead of the laws of the United States and our fellow citizens.”
USPIS Inspector in Charge Philip R. Bartlett said: “As alleged, Mr. Schirripa chose to amass a stockpile of PPE, specifically N95 masks, which were desperately needed for the safety of frontline workers. He then allegedly used this crisis to jack up the price of this equipment. Thankfully, the ‘mask man’ has been unmasked by law enforcement and brought to justice for his alleged greedy crimes.”
DEA Special Agent in Charge Raymond Donovan said: “There is no place in our city for a licensed pharmacist to allegedly victimize New Yorkers, especially at a time when people’s priority is their health and safety. I applaud our law enforcement partners for their collaborative efforts throughout this investigation.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint unsealed today:
SCHIRRIPA engaged in at least three different criminal schemes: (1) hoarding and price gouging of thousands of N95 masks in late March and April 2020, in violation of the De