Lakewood companies agree to give up $400K in price-gouge profits
LAKEWOOD — Two import companies have agreed to give up $400,000 in profits and sell at cost 11 million pieces of personal protective equipment that federal officials seized in April as part of a price-gouging investigation.
Federal prosecutors said CSG Imports, which waded into the PPE-import business in March, and its related KG Imports, which appears to have gone into business in April for the first time in order to exploit the pandemic, sold the much-needed critical supplies far and above prevailing market prices.
Both federal and state laws prohibit price gouging during declared emergency. In New Jersey, companies cannot increase the price of goods by more than 10%.
CSG purchased N-95 masks at $3.47 and marked them up by as much as 78 cents to $2.53. They also purchased three-ply disposable face masks for 37 cents and marked them up by as much as 9 to 28 cents. KG Imports sold the same three-ply masks to hospitals and healthcare providers at markups of 11 to 43 cents, federal officials said.
CSG was based in warehouses at 1980 and 1965 Swarthmore Ave. and at 155 N. Oberlin Ave., which also was used by KG Imports.
The companies agreed to settle the case by paying back two customers and selling the seized goods at cost.
“The defendants in this case sought to profit illegally from a pandemic just as it was starting to sweep across the country,” U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Craig Carpenito said in a written statement Friday. “Today’s agreements will ensure that needed personal protective equipment gets into the hands of the people who need it, and at a fair price."
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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.