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Attorney General Bill Barr at the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A Georgia man is facing a wire fraud charge for allegedly trying to sell "millions of nonexistent respirator masks to the Department of Veterans Affairs in exchange for large upfront payments," per a Department of Justice statement.

Details: Christopher Parris, 39, from Atlanta, was arrested Friday on suspicion of attempting to "secure orders from the Department of Veterans Affairs for 125 million face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) that would have totaled over $750 million," the DOJ said.

  • The complaint alleges that Parris "promised that he could obtain millions of genuine 3M masks from domestic factories when he knew that fulfilling the orders would not be possible." (The Minnesota-based manufacturer has produced millions of masks amid a surge in demand during the novel coronavirus cases outbreak.)
  • "Parris also allegedly made similar false representations to other entities in an effort to enter into other fraudulent agreements to sell PPE to state governments," the Justice Department said.

What they're saying: Attorney General Bill Barr vowed in a statement to "vigorously pursue fraudsters who exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to make money."

  • "As this case demonstrates, even beyond the typical costs associated with unlawful behavior, COVID-19 scams divert government time and resources and risk preventing front-line responders and consumers from obtaining the equipment they need to combat this pandemic," he said.

What's next: Parris was ordered during an appearance before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on Friday to be extradited to the District of Columbia to face his charge.

  • If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

Go deeper: Report: DOJ memo advises on "terrorism-related statutes" in coronavirus cases

Go deeper

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

9 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.