NEW YORK – A New York Metropolis pharmacist was charged Tuesday following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Safety Investigations (HSI) New York’s Darkish Internet & Cryptocurrency Activity Pressure, with help from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Richard Schirripa, a/okay/a “the Masks Man,” a licensed pharmacist, is charged with violating the Protection Manufacturing Act by hoarding and worth gouging scarce N95 masks; making two false statements to regulation enforcement; committing healthcare fraud; and committing aggravated id theft.
“Right now when our nation is battling the COVID-19 pandemic and we count on that our healthcare professionals are standing in solidarity with us, the defendant, Richard Schirripa, a licensed pharmacist, allegedly sought to capitalize and revenue from the struggling of others. Because the pandemic was beginning to take form in March and April of 2020, Schirripa allegedly started hoarding desperately wanted private safety tools (PPE). As demand for the PPE was peaking, he then purportedly took the chance to promote the hoarded PPE at costs as a lot as 50% above his acquisition prices,” stated Peter C. Fitzhugh, particular agent accountable for HSI New York. “HSI, together with regulation enforcement companions, and the US Legal professional’s Workplace, Southern District of New York, will tirelessly pursue these in our society who select to place their private greed and achieve forward of the legal guidelines of the US and our fellow residents.”
“As alleged, Richard Schirripa exploited an unprecedented disaster to have interaction in profiteering. He allegedly spent over $200,000 accumulating N95 masks after which bought masks at inflated costs, charging clients as much as 50% greater than he had paid to amass these N95 masks. As alleged, throughout a sale to an undercover officer, Schirripa stated, ‘I really feel like a drug supplier.’ He additionally allegedly dedicated a number of extra, unrelated crimes, together with mendacity to regulation enforcement, defrauding Medicare and Medicaid, and exploiting the non-public info of his pharmacy’s clients to fill prescriptions,” stated Manhattan U.S. Legal professional, Geoffrey S. Berman.
“As alleged, Mr. Schirripa selected to amass a stockpile of PPE, particularly N95 masks, which had been desperately wanted for the protection of frontline staff. He then allegedly used this disaster to jack up the value of this tools. Fortunately, the ‘masks man’ has been unmasked by regulation enforcement and dropped at justice for his alleged grasping crimes,” stated USPIS Inspector in Cost Philip R. Bartlett.
“There isn’t a place in our metropolis for a licensed pharmacist to allegedly victimize New Yorkers, particularly at a time when folks’s precedence is their well being and security. I applaud our regulation enforcement companions for his or her collaborative efforts all through this investigation,” stated DEA Particular Agent in Cost Raymond Donovan.
Based on the allegations within the criticism, Schirripa engaged in no less than three completely different prison schemes: (1) hoarding and worth gouging of hundreds of N95 masks in late March and April 2020, in violation of the Protection Manufacturing Act (DPA); (2) mendacity to officers of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on two events in early 2020; and (3) inflicting Medicare and Medicaid to be billed for prescriptions primarily based on false representations, from 2014 to 2019, in addition to the unauthorized use of his pharmacy sufferers’ figuring out info in connection along with his well being care fraud scheme.
As for the primary scheme, from no less than late March to April 2020, through the COVID-19 world pandemic, Schirripa engaged in hoarding and worth gouging of hundreds of 3M N95 masks. In early 2020, Schirripa bought no less than roughly $200,000 value of N95 masks. On March 25, 2020, the DPA was invoked, making it a criminal offense to have interaction in hoarding or worth gouging of specified tools, together with the varieties of masks Schirripa had. Schirripa admitted to regulation enforcement that he was conscious of the DPA and its restrictions on worth gouging and hoarding. Nonetheless, within the two weeks after March 25, 2020, Schirripa charged his clients inflated costs in reference to no less than roughly 50 gross sales, by way of which he charged them no less than roughly $50,000. As an illustration, Schirripa charged as much as $25 per masks for a masks which ought to have price an end-user solely roughly $1.27, in keeping with 3M, the producer. Schirripa’s markup was as much as 50%, in comparison with his acquisition price. His clients had been in eight states and included funeral houses and medical doctors. Brokers recovered roughly 6,660 masks from Schirripa.
Schirripa made numerous statements throughout this scheme. Throughout a recorded name with an spy (the “UC”), Schirripa stated, “We’re in a time of emergency and absence,” however added, “when you might have one thing nobody else has, it’s not a excessive worth.” In a textual content message dated April 2, 2020, Schirripa bragged to a possible buyer that he “noticed it coming” and the “good factor is nobody has them.” Schirripa repeatedly bought masks out of his automotive, together with to the UC; throughout that sale, Schirripa informed the UC, “I really feel like a drug supplier standing out right here.”
Second, in each January and February 2020, Schirripa made materials false statements to the DEA. On every event, Schirripa falsely represented that as a part of the current closure of his pharmacy in New York, New York, he had transferred to others, bought, or destroyed all managed substances. In reality, Schirripa remained in possession of hundreds of managed substance capsules/patches, together with fentanyl, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. These substances had been all recovered from a protected in Schirripa’s house. When brokers executed a search warrant at Schirripa’s house in April 2020, Schirripa acknowledged that these managed substances had been from his pharmacy and he wanted to destroy them. There have been practically 4,000 capsules/patches, in whole.
Third, Schirripa precipitated Medicare and Medicaid to be billed for these managed substance prescriptions, and he falsely represented that these prescriptions had been for sufferers of his pharmacy. In reality, these prescriptions weren’t for sufferers of his pharmacy, and Schirripa himself possessed these prescriptions at his house on Lengthy Island. In reference to this scheme, Schirripa used the non-public figuring out info of his pharmacy’s sufferers, with out their authorization.
Schirripa, 66, of Fort Salonga, New York, is charged with one depend of violating the Protection Manufacturing Act, which carries a most sentence of 1 12 months in jail; two counts of constructing false statements, every of which carries a most sentence of 5 years in jail; one depend of healthcare fraud, which carries a most sentence of 20 years in jail; and one depend of aggravated id theft, which carries a compulsory minimal sentence of two years in jail, which should run consecutively to some other sentence of imprisonment.
A particular due to the US Postal Inspection Service, the DEA, and the New York Metropolis Police Division and the U.S. Division of Well being and Human Providers. This investigation is ongoing. This matter is being dealt with by the SDNY’s Advanced Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.
A prison criticism comprise expenses and will not be proof of guilt. The defendant is presumed harmless and are entitled to a good trial at which the federal government has the burden of proving guilt past an inexpensive doubt.