NJ-based company accused of price gouging face masks to NC Emergency Management, hospitals, AG Stein says

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced a lawsuit against a company accused of price gouging personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawsuit alleges the Stephen Gould Corporation pitched highly priced N95 face masks to North Carolina Division of Emergency Management, Duke Health, UNC Health and the Charlotte Chapter of the American Red Cross. It also accuses Stephen Gould Corporation of telling potential clients the markup on the masks was "slim" or only 3 percent, when the markup would be more than 100 percent.

Stephen Gould Company is based in New Jersey and has a branch in Morrisville.

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"At the height of the pandemic, officials in government, health care systems, and charitable organizations were trying to protect their health care workers to care for people in an environment that was extremely dangerous and potentially deadly," said Attorney General Josh Stein in a written statement. "At the same time, we allege, this company sought to exploit them for huge profits at the expense of the taxpayer and health care systems. This is unconscionable and illegal - and my office will see them in court."

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The complaint said Stephen Gould Corporation pitched a sale of 7 million masks to each UNC Health, Duke Health and the Charlotte Chapter of the American Red Cross. The corporation bought each mask at $4.15 but was offering them at $8.45 each, amounting to an attempted profit of $30.1 million.

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The Department of Justice discovered throughout its investigation that Stephen Gould Corporation used fear about COVID-19 to sell masks at unreasonably high prices.

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The lawsuit asks the court to stop the company from selling goods and services in North Carolina at unreasonable prices during the emergency and seeks $5,000 in civil penalties for each violation of North Carolina's price gouging laws.
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