Pharmacist charged with hoarding, price gouging of N95 masks
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A New York pharmacist has been charged with hoarding and price gouging of N95 masks amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a complaint unsealed Tuesday.

Authorities say Richard Schirripa, 66, of Fort Salonga, N.Y., who also went by “the mask man,” spent $200,000 collecting 3M N95 masks in the early days of the pandemic in March and April. He then sold them at an inflated rate of up to 50 percent more than he paid, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) release.

The licensed pharmacist had told law enforcement that he was aware the Defense Production Act had been invoked on March 25, making it criminal to hoard or price gouge the masks he was selling, according to the DOJ. 

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Law enforcement alleged that after that date, Schirripa continued to collect masks and charged customers an inflated price, making about $50,000 in revenue in at least 50 sales.

In a recorded call with an undercover agent, Schirripa allegedly said, “We’re in a time of emergency and shortage,” and added, “when you have something no one else has, it’s not a high price.” 

Schirripa also said, “I feel like a drug dealer standing out here,” when meeting with the undercover agent for the sale, the DOJ says.

“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,” Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge Raymond Donavan said in a statement released by DOJ.

Schirripa was also charged with making two false statements to the DEA, committing health care fraud and committing aggravated identity theft. 

Law enforcement said he lied to the DEA in statements in January and February 2020 by saying he had transferred, sold or destroyed controlled substances after the closure of his pharmacy. But police said they found almost 4,000 pills and patches at Schirripa’s home, including fentanyl, oxycodone and oxymorphone.

The licensed pharmacist was also charged with falsely representing prescriptions for patients causing Medicare and Medicaid to be billed between 2014 and 2019, officials say.

Schirripa could face a maximum of 31 years in prison, plus a minimum of two years for his alleged aggravated identity theft.