Law 360’s Pro Say: COVID Crimes Crackdown

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Law360 (May 29, 2020, 6:53 PM EDT) — Over the past few weeks, federal prosecutors have launched a wave of criminal cases accusing people of trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On this week’s episode of Pro Say, we’re breaking them all down, including a New Jersey car salesman who sold price-gouged masks and a New York City man who tried to get millions in relief loans.

Each week on Pro Say, Law360 staffers Amber McKinney, Bill Donahue and Alex Lawson bring you inside the newsroom and explain what you need to know about key legal developments.

We’ve talked plenty on the show about civil litigation stemming from the pandemic, but the criminal suits are starting to mount as well. 

Last week, a Georgia man was charged with wire fraud after allegedly lying to his employer about testing positive for COVID-19, which cost the Fortune 500 company about $100,000 after it needlessly stopped business.

The same day, Manhattan federal prosecutors brought charges against a Chinese national who allegedly tried to get hold of more than $20 million in government-backed loans that were earmarked for small businesses affected by coronavirus. 

Then there are the alleged price-gougers: A man trying to resell millions of 3M masks was hit with criminal charges over the scheme this week while, separately, a former pharmacist who went by the nickname «The Mask Man» was charged with buying up thousands of masks and reselling them for as much as $25. 

Needless to say, it’s just one more legal wrinkle that will be unfolding for years as we move on from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Also on this week’s show, we break down a big environmental ruling from the Ninth Circuit that could set the stage for a new rush of climate change cases filed in state courts.