Photo courtesy of AG Lynn Fitch
Back in January, a pharmacy owner on the Coast pled guilty to one count of price gauging medical facilities for PPE at the onset of the pandemic. As part of a plea agreement, his inventory was turned over to Attorney General Lynn Fitch who is now redistributing over 500,000 items.
“Taking advantage of our neighbors in need during a crisis to turn an extra profit is wrong,” Fitch said. “We are turning this PPE back to the men and women who have sacrificed so much for us during this pandemic – health centers, law enforcement, and fire departments.”
The case dates back to March 2020 when the Attorney General’s Office began an investigation into Gulf Coast Pharmaceuticals Plus, LLC following multiple complaints of price gouging. A federal judge then signed a search and seizure warrant before the following items were inventoried and seized:
- 6,576 N-95 respirators
- 8,950 KN-95 respirators
- 365,225 Surgical masks
- 26,300 Shoe covers
- 77,200 Gloves
- 230 Lab coats/ coveralls
- 4,332 Gowns/ scrubs/ scrub caps · 300 Disposable scrub caps
- 163 Face shields/goggles
It was uncovered that Gulf Coast Pharmaceuticals Plus, LLC, under the direction and supervision of owner Kenneth Ritchey, was intentionally and feloniously price-gouging medical facilities by excessively marking up and selling PPE that was in short supply at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, including Mississippi’s G.V. Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center.
Ritchey pled guilty and was ordered to pay nearly $60,000 in restitution to the G.V. Sonny Montgomery Veterans Administration Hospital.
In mid-January, representatives of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office contacted first responders, emergency management entities, health officials, and law enforcement associations asking organizations to complete a PPE request form, and all 189 unique organizations that submitted a request are receiving PPE.