Attorney General’s Office recovers nearly 500K PPE items from price gouger

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Courtesy: Mississippi Attorney General’s Office

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Attorney General Lynn Fitch (R-Miss.) announced her office began distributing nearly 500,000 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items. According to Fitch, her office came into possession of the items as the result of a plea agreement in a price gouging case on the Coast.

“Taking advantage of our neighbors in need during a crisis to turn an extra profit is wrong,” said Fitch. “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.”

According to Fitch, her office began an investigation into Gulf Coast Pharmaceuticals Plus, LLC, after receiving multiple complaints of price gouging. 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

Fitch said the pharmaceutical company, under the direction and supervision of owner Kenneth Ritchey, was price gouging medical facilities by marking up and selling PPE that was in short supply at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the medical facilities that was affected was the G.V. Sonny Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson.

Ritchey pled guilty to one count of price gouging and was ordered to pay nearly $60,000 in restitution to the VA hospital, a maximum fine of $5,000, and all court costs. He also surrendered all PPE seized by law enforcement to the Attorney General’s Office.

In January 2021, Fitch said her 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.

The AGO is no longer accepting PPE requests. All available PPE has been allocated and distribution will continue to occur over the next month.

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