A California man was arrested by police officers on Tuesday, April 7, after he tried selling N95 respirators at price-gouging prices, according to a press release issued by the Baldwin Park Police Department on their Facebook page.
Johnwill Baldonado, a 30-year-old man from Covina, California, was arrested and booked by the Baldwin Park Police Department and later released with a future court date. He was charged with allegedly price-gouging during a declared emergency.
As indicated by the press release, the Baldwin Park Police Department received a tip about an individual from Covina selling boxes of masks for $300 per box on a classified website. Initially, the authorities had the post taken down, but soon after, two more posts containing the same information were put up.
Thus leading authorities to believe that the posts were put online by the same person as the content was identical, according to the press release.
Investigators went undercover and arranged a meeting with Baldonado in regards to the $300 masks, and then purchased a box. Following the exchange, Baldonado was arrested. In the subsequent investigation, authorities found that Baldonado had 21 boxes of N95 respirator masks. Each box contained 20 N95 respirators, totaling 420 masks overall.
“According to him, he bought them himself for $200 and tried to flip it for $300, and I don’t believe that,” said Steven McLean, the Baldwin Park Police Department chief, according to CBS Los Angeles.
McLean also stated that the FDA arrived to take a look at the masks, and said that the ones Baldonado was selling were meant for Canada.
“When he got arrested he was embarrassed, but he felt he was doing what he had to, to take care of his family,” said McLean. “I get it, but you’re not going to do it at the expense of an entire community.”
According to CBS Los Angeles, Baldonado was out of work.
Baldwin Park Police Department stated that during a state of emergency, laws prohibit price-gouging on items. In essence, this meant that item prices during times of emergency are not allowed to be more than 10 percent of what they used to cost before the statement emergency.
“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 McLean, CBS Los Angeles reported.
Currently, California has 19,710 confirmed cases of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, and 544 deaths recorded, according to the Johns Hopkins University resource center. The United States has a total of 454,304 confirmed cases as of the time of writing.