A Long Island businessman who portrayed himself as a philanthropist for donating medical supplies to health-care workers and first responders was actually a profiteer who hoarded masks and gowns desperately needed by hospitals and then sold them at a massive markup, federal authorities say.
Amardeep Singh—better known as Bobby Singh on his self-congratulatory Instagram account—allegedly continued to price-gouge even after being cited by the Nassau County Department of Consumer Affairs and the state Attorney General’s office, according to a criminal complaint.
Now Singh is facing federal charges of violating the Defense Production Act—the first such criminal case since the start of the coronavirus crisis. He is expected to surrender next week, prosecutors said.
His attorney, Bradley Gerstman, said the invocation of the Defense Production Act was a farce.
“No one even knows that selling PPE [personal protective equipment] had any criminal implications,” he said. “If it does, we could look everywhere and anywhere to start locking people up.”
Gerstman said police officers, doctors, and nurses have been going to his client’s store to buy necessities that hospitals and public agencies have run out of. “Where are they going to go now?” he said.
He also denied the feds’ accusation of insane price hikes, saying the figures in the complaint were a fiction. “He’s a community member. He never gouged. This is a total attack on his reputation,” Gerstman said, adding that he had bought some of the items himself.
Singh operates a sneaker and sportswear store in Plainview, New York, and a warehouse in Brentwood, and markets his business under the names New York Tent Sale and Warehouse Liquidation Center. In mid-March, the feds say, he began selling what he called “COVID-19 Essentials,” including the scarce N-95 masks and other pieces of personal protective equipment like face shields, gowns, and coveralls.
The complaint says Singh ordered 1.6 tons of disposable face masks, 2.2 tons of disposable surgical gowns, 1.8 tons of hand sanitizer and 253 pounds of digital thermometers.
The complaint alleges he sold the items at markups ranging from 59 percent for some N-95 masks to 1,328 percent for three-ply disposable face masks—and some of the overpriced items were sold to non-profit children’s and senior citizens’ organizations.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said in a statement.
The complaint, signed by a postal inspector, notes that Singh wore a face shield—one of the items covered by the Defense Production Act—in a photo on his Instagram account, posing behind a table full of hand sanitizer.
The account also contains numerous photos of Singh posing with a soldier, local firefighters, local police officers, and various health-care workers with captions indicating he had donated supplies to them—along with photos of cash that he said he received to underwrite the cost of the donations.
Gerstman said the complaint—along with the citations from the county and state—were “unfounded accusations” and that his client will be “exonerated.”
“I was there the day of the raid, and I was as confused as anybody,” he said. “You can’t imagine how many New York City cops were running there to get their PPE equipment.”