Illinois businessman found guilty of jacking up N95 mask prices in early weeks of pandemic

CHICAGO (AP) — An Illinois businessman has been convicted of price gouging in connection with the sale of N95 masks during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Krikor Topouzian, 62, of Winnetka, was sentenced Thursday in Chicago federal court after a bench trial, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. He could face a year in prison when sentenced on October 10.

Topouzian owned a medical supply business in Skokie, Illinois, prosecutors say. He bought about 80,000 N95 masks in March and April 2020 for about $5 per mask and then sold them for about $20 per mask, prosecutors said. He bragged about earning up to $80,000 a day and $1 million within weeks, prosecutors said.

The masks have been labeled “rare materials” during the pandemic under the Defense Production Act.

Topouzian’s attorneys, listed in online court records as Thomas More Leinenweber and Matthew John McQuaid, did not immediately respond to an email Sunday seeking comment on the case.

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