One-on-one with Attorney General Barr: DOJ to prosecute hoarders and price gougers

Published: Mar. 26, 2020 at 5:20 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Medical workers and first responders are battling the coronavirus on the front lines, but their supplies are running low.

Now, the Justice Department is stepping in against hoarders and price gougers who they say threaten the supply.

U.S. Attorney General William Bar spoke one-on-one with Gray Television’s Washington Bureau Chief Jacqueline Policastro about the issue.

Read the interview below:

Question: Attorney General Barr, across the country, there are reports of people hoarding medical supplies. How is this impacting our healthcare workers?

Answer: If there is any real hoarding going on, or price gouging, it’s keeping these essential supplies away from the people who really need them right now, and therefore, it’s endangering the community. Why the president put out an executive order that prohibits hoarding and prohibits hoarding for the purpose of price gouging.

Q: You say you’re going to prosecute for hoarding and price gouging. What’s the penalty?

A: Well, the penalty is a felony. It’s a felony to violate this, so it could be a year in prison, but more importantly, it lets us take possession of these materials, and take them to the people who need them, and that’s the most essential thing right now.

Q: Is there a case that got your attention? What led you to this decision?

A: Well, we figured there would be incidents of hoarding, and a few days even before the president’s executive order, we heard from some hospitals and some others that their supplies, their supply chain was being disrupted, and some of the contracts were being broken, and some middlemen were creeping into the picture and trying to corner the market on some of these things, so we immediately launched an investigation.

Q: Who are the folks who are hoarding all this stuff?

A: I think it’s important for people to understand we’re not talking about homes and small businesses stocking up on the supplies they need. This is not about having 100 rolls of toilet paper and so forth. This is about having thousands and thousands and thousands of surgical masks stuck away and hoping to make a killing in the market on it.

You can report hoarding and price gouging concerns to your local US Attorney’s office.

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