Brooklyn man arrested after coughing on FBI agents

The suspect allegedly sold N95 respirators "and other assorted materials" for $12,000, a 700% markup from their normal prices.

A Federal law enforcement officer stands outside the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse in the Brooklyn borough in New York April 2, 2015. Two New York City women have been arrested in an alleged conspiracy to build a bomb and wage a "terrorist attack" in the United States, according to a federal criminal  (photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
A Federal law enforcement officer stands outside the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse in the Brooklyn borough in New York April 2, 2015. Two New York City women have been arrested in an alleged conspiracy to build a bomb and wage a "terrorist attack" in the United States, according to a federal criminal
(photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
A Brooklyn man was arrested on Monday for allegedly coughing on FBI agents while claiming to be infected with coronavirus, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a statement.

Baruch Feldheim, 43, was charged with assault and making false statements to law enforcement, with maximum penalties of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine, and five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, respectively. Agents confronted him for allegedly hoarding scarce medical equipment in order to sell it, in violation of an executive order by the Health Department.

According to the DOJ, Feldheim was contacted by a New Jersey doctor via a WhatsApp group labeled "Virus 2020!" agreeing to sell the individual a thousand N95 respirators "and other assorted materials" for $12,000, a 700% markup from their normal prices.
The material included 130,000 surgical masks, 598,000 medical grade gloves, surgical gowns, disinfectant towels and bottles of hand sanitizer and spray disinfectant. Officials said they seized the supplies, and will distribute them to health authorities in New York and New Jersey.
Local officials have been scrambling to secure protective gear, which is in short supply. An emergency stockpile maintained by the US government has been nearly exhausted.

Directed by Feldheim to an auto repair shop in Irvington, NJ, to pick up the order, the doctor discovered enough material "to outfit an entire hospital," the DOJ said. Feldheim told the doctor he had been forced to move the supplies to a different location.

The man later offered a number of surgical gowns to a nurse, who he directed to his residence in Brooklyn. FBI agents later saw an empty box of N95 respirators near his residence, designated as "scarce health and medical resources necessary to respond to the spread of the coronavirus" by the US Health Department.

Feldheim was later approached by FBI agents, who witnessed multiple instances of individuals possibly purchasing the equipment. After identifying themselves as federal agents and asking the man to keep his distance, Feldheim coughed in their direction.

According to the DoJ, the agents later told the man they had information that he was in possession of a large quantities of personal protection equipment, to which Feldheim responded saying he was infected with COVID-19.

He later falsely told the agents he worked for a company that bought and sold the materials, claiming he did not possess large quantities of the equipment and saying he never sold them directly.
Reuters contributed to this report.