CLEVELAND — Law enforcement are looking to identify and prosecute anyone hoarding medical supplies and then price gouging hospitals trying to purchase the equipment. U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman asked Northeast Ohio hospitals to report anyone suspected of price gouging.
“Our office is prioritizing the deterrence, investigation, and prosecution of wrongdoing related to the COVID-19 pandemic — including those engaged in hoarding and/or price-gouging critical medical supplies,” said Herdman in a letter to the hospitals.
On March 20, Attorney General William Barr directed all state attorneys to prioritize investigating and prosecuting fraud related to COVID-19. Herdman's office said it wants to protect medical workers and hospital systems from people taking advantage of this crisis.
"These practices are not only morally repugnant in light of the pandemic we are facing, but also, if left unchecked, can inhibit hospitals, physicians and other health care professionals, governmental agencies, and the public from fully implementing measures designed to save lives and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus," Herdman said.
Hospitals are being asked to work with the U.S. attorney's office to prevent the misuse of medical supplies.
Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday that the state is having difficulty acquiring more protective equipment for hospitals and urged medical officials to preserve what equipment they could.
Anyone who has a tip on a COVID-19 fraud can report it to the National Center for Disaster Fraud hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or email tips to the Northern District office at USAOHN.COVID19@usdoj.gov.