A man from Covina was detained early last week when the authorities allegedly discovered he was advertising N-95 masks for sale at a price that they believed was much higher than the value of the product with an intent to unfairly profit off the COVID-19 pandemic.
After they were given a tip, Baldwin Park Police Department investigators reported that they found two Craigslist advertisements posted by a seller offering N-95 face masks for $300 for a box of 20. They asserted that the price of $15 per mask seemed high compared to the assumed value of the items, and it was believed that the seller was purposely exploiting the public based on the recent high demand for the product.
The authorities decided to arrange a sting operation and they contacted the seller through the advertisement and asked to buy a box of the face masks.
When they received a response, they agreed they would meet in the parking lot of a shopping center in West Covina in the morning on April 7.
Detectives wearing civilian clothing and showed up for the exchange of masks for money, and the man who met with them was identified as 30-year-old Covina resident Johnwill Baldonado.
When Baldonado was placed under arrest, the officers reported that they found 20 additional boxes of 20-piece N-95 masks that they seized during the bust.
Baldonado was taken to the police station where he was booked and cited for misdemeanor price gouging.
A press release from the Baldwin Park Police Department regarding the arrest of Baldonado reminded the public that “During a state emergency the law prohibits charging a price that is more than 10% what an item costs before the state declaration of emergency,”
The police department reported that they will decide what to do with the masks they retrieved and assured that they will be used by workers most in need of the equipment for fighting the spread of the virus.
If you or someone you love is suspected of a crime, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.