Tonatiuh Antonio Leal-Matos was indicted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Thursday for price gouging disinfecting wipes during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press release.
Leal-Matos was charged by the United States Attorney’s Office, District of Puerto Rico, with two counts of violating the Defense Production Act. This was in relation to price gouging personal protective equipment (PPE), including face masks and disinfecting wipes, according to the press release.
Individual Indicted For Price Gouging. https://t.co/2JrK15DuTR
— U.S. Attorney PR (@USAO_PR) April 29, 2021
From April to July 2020, the defendant sold face masks that were “between $10 and $35 per mask,” which was equivalent to “two times his acquisition cost.” He also bought disinfecting wipes with prices ranging from $6.95-$8.45 while selling them for approximately $39 per container. This represented a 461% markup, according to the DOJ.
Leal-Matos used multiple Facebook accounts to advertise for and sell the PPE and disinfecting wipes. If convicted of both counts, he could face up to two years in prison and a fine of $20,000. (RELATED: DOJ: Father And Sons Allegedly Made $1 Million Selling Bleach As ‘Miracle Cure’ For COVID, HIV, And Cancer)
Stephen Muldrow, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, said, “The defendant knew that the price he charged for face masks and disinfecting wipes exceeded prevailing market prices. He saw the devastating COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to make illegal profits on needed PPEs. Federal and State law enforcement authorities will continue to intervene whenever profiteers and scammers break the law by capitalizing on the public’s fear to enrich themselves.”