Two men were arrested for running separate schemes in which they attempted to sell personal protective equipment (PPE) at huge markups. One of the men selling masks was a New Jersey used car salesman named Ronald Romano. The other has been identified as Richard Shirripa (pictured above), commonly known as “the Mask Man,” The 66-year-old licensed pharmacist is being accused of selling N95 masks at inflated prices during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I feel like a drug dealer standing out here,” Schirripa allegedly said during one exchange on a Manhattan street.
He was recorded selling 16 boxes of N95 masks to a customer in early April, according to an unsealed criminal complaint from the Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force. The team was established in March to crack down on coronavirus-related scams, including price gouging.
Schirripa allegedly spent $200,000 on N95 masks from February to April so he could sell them at inflated prices during March and April. He charged around $25 per mask, which usually cost $1.27 each.
“We’re in a time of emergency and shortage,” Schirripa allegedly told an undercover agent during a phone call that was recorded. According to the complaint, Schirripa justified his inflated prices by noting how scarce masks were and how much they were needed.
Agents reportedly recovered over 6,000 masks from Schirripa’s house in Long Island, his apartment in New York City, and his car. His customers include several doctors, a nursing home, a funeral home, and a drugstore.
Schirripa is also being investigated for his involvement in other schemes. In one, he’s accused of lying to officers of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on two occasions in early 2020. In another scheme, he billed Medicare and Medicaid for prescriptions based on false representations while operating his pharmacy. He is also being accused of using his patients’ information without authorization in connection with his health care fraud scheme.
He is being charged with one count of violating the Defense Production Act, two counts of making false statements, one count of healthcare fraud, and one count of aggravated identify theft.
Richard Schirripa Masks — Sources
Press Release: Licensed Pharmacist Charged With Hoarding And Price Gouging Of N95 Masks In Violation Of Defense Production Act
Memo from Attorney General Bill Bar
NPR: Feds Arrest ‘The Mask Man,’ New York Pharmacist Accused Of Profiteering On N95 Masks