NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey company admitted Wednesday that it violated price-gouging laws by selling N95 protective masks at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic for 400 percent more than what it paid for them.
Mahwah-based TSC Agency, a logistics company, pleaded guilty by videoconference before a federal judge, and faces a fine of $200,000 or possibly more, depending on the amount of monetary loss by the victims. Sentencing is scheduled for April 13.
According to the U.S. attorney’s office, 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.
The federal Defense Production Act invoked during the pandemic prohibits the hoarding of materials for resale at higher than prevailing market prices.
According to documents in the case, the unidentified grocery chain sold the masks to customers for less than it had paid to TSC, and gave out some of the masks for free to its employees.
A message seeking comment was left Wednesday with an attorney representing the company.