A Mississippi man was charged for hoarding personal protective equipment (PPE) gear in a defrauding scheme, officials announced Wednesday, according to a Justice Department press release.
Kenneth Bryan Ritchey, a 57-year-old businessman, faces charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and hoarding scarce materials, according to the press release. Ritchey reportedly intended to price gouge health care workers, including those in the Department of Veterans Affairs, in a $1.8 million scheme.
Ritchey began pressuring health care providers to buy PPE, such as N-95 masks, at “excessively” high costs through misrepresentation shortly after the U.S confirmed its first COVID-19 case, according to the release. (RELATED: US Should ‘Create Alternatives To Chinese Supply That Uses Forced Labor,’ Experts Say)
Ritchey went to court in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Myers of the Southern District of Mississippi on Wednesday, the press release said. The FBI’s Jackson Field Office investigated the case, which will be prosecuted by Principal Assistant Deputy Chief Dustin M. Davis, Trial Attorney Sara E. Porter of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathlyn R. Van Buskirk of the Southern District of Mississippi.
The Justice Department told the Daily Caller News Foundation Ritchey will face 30 years maximum in prison if convicted.
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