HARRY HURLEY OPINION - EDITORIAL

Price-gouging is always a deeply disturbing practice.

However, when it takes place during an unprecedented global and potentially deadly health pandemic, it is beyond reprehensible.

When you rip people off during the best of times, it’s still bad. When you do it during the worst of times, it’s despicable.

We don’t have to go far to find an example of this unethical practice. It happened right here in New Jersey.

A New Jersey company has admitted in court that it violated federal price-gouging laws, when it sold N95 protective face masks (to an unidentified grocery chain) at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic for a 400% price mark-up.

TSC Agency, a logistics company, pleaded guilty by video conference last Wednesday before a federal judge.

They face a fine of at least $200,000, perhaps even more. The actual fine will be assessed based upon the monetary loss of the victims. Sentencing is scheduled for April 13, 2022.

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Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig has stated that “the company and two partners bought 250,000 masks at $1.09 per mask from a foreign manufacturer in mid-March 2020 and then sold 100,000 of the masks to a grocery chain for $5.25 per mask.”

They did this at a time when New Jerseyans and all Americans were feeling very uncertain about COVID-19.

Aggravating this unrest still further, there was a critical shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) available for consumers to purchase.

The federal Defense Production Act was triggered during the COVID-19 pandemic. It prohibits the hoarding of materials for resale at higher than existing fair market prices.

You’ve heard in the past about other unconscionable examples of bad actors charging $ 100 for a case of (24) bottled waters during a natural disaster. A case such as this would normally sell for between $ 3 to $ 5 per-case.

This situation is just as disturbing, or, perhaps even worse.

The gallery immediately below illustrates just how many many New Jersey businesses have closed thus far during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SOURCE: Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig

Jersey Shore Businesses We've Lost During COVID

Home-made Covid19 Mask Designs