Mississippi businessman accused in scheme to hoard PPE

A Mississippi businessman has been indicted in a $1.8 million scheme to hoard particular protecting machines amid the pandemic and price gouging wellness treatment companies in vital have to have of the identical.

Kenneth Bryan Ritchey, 57, of Ocean Springs, the proprietor of a pharmaceutical wholesale corporation, was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to dedicate hoarding of designated scarce materials and hoarding of specified scarce resources, federal prosecutors claimed Wednesday. It was mysterious if he’s represented by an attorney who could communicate on his behalf.

The indictment alleges that immediately after the initially U.S.-verified circumstance of COVID-19, Ritchey participated in a plan to defraud wellness treatment vendors, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, of additional than $1.8 million by obtaining PPE and other specified components from all achievable sources, together with property advancement merchants and on the net stores, and ultimately hoarding the same.

The indictment also alleges that due to nationwide PPE shortages and COVID-19-related fears, Ritchey directed income reps to solicit health and fitness care providers to buy PPE and other selected products at excessively inflated charges through superior-pressure revenue tactics and by way of misrepresenting sourcing and real expenditures. For instance, the indictment alleges that Ritchey bought N-95 masks to the VA and other wellbeing treatment companies for as significantly as $25 for each mask, even with attaining this kind of masks at substantially reduce prices.