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Coronavirus: Covina Man Arrested In Sting For Price-Gouging Sales Of N95 Masks

BALDWIN PARK (CBSLA) – A man was apprehended Tuesday in a Baldwin Park police sting for trying to sell hundreds N95 masks at markup prices.

Covina Man Arrested In Sting For Price-Gouging Sales Of N95 Masks
N95 masks which were seized from a Covina, Calif., man who was trying to sell them online at upmarked prices. April 7, 2020. (Baldwin Park Police Department)

Baldwin Park police report that they received a tip about a man selling N95 masks through a classified website for $300 a box, with each box containing 20 masks.

"Anybody who tries to profit off all the agony that everybody's going through...the worst health crisis in 100 years, it really doesn't get much lower than that," said Baldwin Park Police Department Chief Steven McLean.

Undercover officers arranged a meeting with the suspect, 30-year-old Johnwill Baldonado, where they purchased a box of masks from him. Officers learned he had a total of 21 boxes and 421 masks available for sale.

"According to him, he bought them himself for $200 and tried to flip it for $300, and I don't believe that," said McLean.

"The FDA came here and identified the masks, and the particular masks we are going to show you were meant for Canada," he said.

Baldonado was arrested and booked on a charge of price gouging during a state of emergency.

He told police he was not working and had fallen on hard times.

"When he got arrested he was embarrassed, but he felt he was doing what he had to, to take care of his family," McLean said. "I get it, but you're not going to do it at the expense of an entire community."

According to police, it is against the law during an emergency to charge 10 percent more of what an item cost prior to the emergency.

Hospitals and clinics nationwide are facing a major shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state had signed contracts to obtain 200 million masks per month for its healthcare workers.

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