A Brooklyn man under investigation for hoarding medical supplies and then selling them at an outrageous markup made matters worse when he coughed on two FBI agents and told them he was infected with the new coronavirus, officials said.
Now Baruch Feldheim, 43, is in custody—charged with assaulting a federal officer and making false statements to law enforcement.
According to federal prosecutors in New Jersey, Feldheim sold the life-saving equipment at inflated prices to doctors and nurses even after they had been designated as scarce by authorities in Washington.
On March 18, a doctor who connected with Feldheim on a WhatsApp chat group called Virus2020! said he agreed to pay $12,000 for a thousand N95 face masks—a 700 percent markup.
When the doctor went to pick up the items at a repair shop, he told investigators, it contained enough hand sanitizers, Clorox wipes, cleaning and surgical supplies “to outfit an entire hospital,” prosecutors said.
Prosecutors allege that Feldheim also offered to sell a nurse surgical gowns. And when FBI agents went to his house on March 28, they watched people walking out with bags that appeared to be medical supplies.
When the agents approached Feldheim and identified themselves, he coughed in their direction, and then said he was infected with coronavirus, prosecutors alleged. He denied that he possessed the medical supplies or bought and sold them.
Feldheim faces up to five years in prison if convicted.