Apr 12, 2020 - Health

DOJ charged man for $750 million scheme to sell non-existent face masks to VA

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

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Iowa Rep. Steve King defeated in GOP primary

Rep. Steve King. Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

State Sen. Randy Feenstra defeated incumbent Rep. Steve King in Tuesday's Republican primary for Iowa's 4th congressional district, according to the Cook Political Report.

Why it matters: King's history of racist remarks has made him one of the most controversial politicians in the country and a pariah within the Republican Party.

Primary elections test impact of protests, coronavirus on voting

Election official at a polling place at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In the midst of a global pandemic and national protests over the death of George Floyd, eight states and the District of Columbia held primary elections on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, needs to win 425 of the 479 delegates up for grabs in order to officially clinch the nomination. There are a number of key down-ballot races throughout the country as well, including a primary in Iowa that could determine the fate of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

Updated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Updates: George Floyd protests continue past curfews

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day, prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: Protesters were still out en masse even as curfews set in in New York City and Washington, D.C.. Large crowds took a knee at Arizona's state capitol nearly an hour before the statewide 8 p.m. curfew, and a peaceful march dispersed in Chicago ahead of the city's 9 p.m. curfew.