Long Island Man Amardeep Singh Charged Under Defense Production Act with Hoarding and Price-Gouging of Scarce Personal Protective Equipment
(STL.News) – A criminal complaint was filed today in federal court in Central Islip charging Amardeep Singh with violating the Defense Production Act of 1950 by hoarding personal protective equipment (“PPE”) at a warehouse in Brentwood, New York, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and price-gouging customers of his retail store in Plainview, New York. If convicted, Singh faces up to one year in prison.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Craig Carpenito, head of the Department of Justice’s nationwide COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force, and Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector-in-Charge, United States Postal Inspection Service, New York Division (USPIS), announced the filing of the complaint
“As charged in the complaint, Singh’s amassing of critical personal protective equipment during a public health crisis and reselling at huge markups places him squarely in the cross-hairs of law enforcement armed with the Defense Production Act,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “This Office is working tirelessly in coordination with the COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force to prevent a pandemic of greed by profiteers.”
“The criminal complaint describes a defendant who allegedly saw the devastating COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to make illegal profits on needed personal protective equipment,” stated Carpenito. “The Department of Justice and its partners will intervene whenever profiteers and scammers break the law by capitalizing on the public’s fear to enrich themselves.”
“The Coronavirus has created challenging times for all Americans, especially those living in the New York metropolitan area,” stated USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Bartlett. “During a crisis of this magnitude, we must come together as a country to fight this common enemy. Unfortunately, Mr. Singh allegedly chose to use this opportunity to make money by hoarding and price gouging PPE. The conduct charged in the complaint is reprehensible and against our most fundamental American values.”
On March 18, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, President Donald Trump issued Executive Order 13909 invoking the Defense Production Act making it illegal to acquire medical supplies and devices designated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) as scarce in order to hoard them or sell them for excessive prices.
According to the complaint, beginning in mid-March 2020, Singh — who operates a retail store selling sneakers and apparel — began accumulating that merchandise at his store and a nearby warehouse. At the same time, he set aside a section of his store for so-called “COVID-19 Essentials,” which he then sold to the public at inflated prices, including but not limited to N-95 filtering face piece respirators, PPE face masks, PPE surgical masks, PPE face shields, PPE gloves, PPE coveralls, medical gowns and clinical-grade sanitizing and disinfecting products.
Between March 25, 2020 and April 8, 2020, Singh allegedly received deliveries at his retail store and warehouse of 40 shipments of disposable face masks weighing more than 1.6 tons, 14 shipments of disposable surgical gowns weighing more than 2.2 tons, six shipments of hand sanitizer weighing more than 1.8 tons and seven shipments of digital thermometers weighing approximately 253 pounds. These and other items — some of which had been officially designated as scarce — were advertised and sold at Singh’s retail store at prices far in excess of prevailing market prices. For example, records obtained during a judicially-authorized search of the store indicate that three-ply disposable face masks that Singh purchased for a per-unit price of $0.07 were resold by Singh for a per-unit price of $1.00 — a markup of approximately 1,328 percent. The seized records also reveal that Singh completed bulk sales at inflated prices to organizations serving vulnerable senior citizens and children battling the virus.
On April 14, 2020, Postal Inspectors executed a search warrant at Singh’s retail store and a consensual search of the warehouse and seized 23 pallets containing more than 100,000 face masks, 10,000 surgical gowns, nearly 2,500 full-body isolation suits and more than 500,000 pairs of disposable gloves.
The charges in the complaint are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Attorney General William P. Barr created the COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force, led by Craig Carpenito, United States Attorney for District of New Jersey, who is coordinating efforts with the Antitrust Division and U.S. Attorneys across the country wherever illegal activity involving protective personal equipment occurs. The Secretary of Health and Human Services has issued a Notice designating categories of health and medical supplies that must not be hoarded or sold for exorbitant prices.