North Carolina AG: Company fined $150K for price gouging PPE

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein says a company that he had accused of price gouging on personal protective equipment has been fined $150,000.

The AG's office said in a statement that Wake County Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier filed the judgement on Wednesday against the New Jersey-based Stephen Gould Corporation.

“Sellers cannot take advantage of a crisis to make a profit, especially at the expense of front line health care workers and first responders who were risking their lives to care for their fellow North Carolinians with the coronavirus,” Stein said.

Stein’s lawsuit claimed the company pitched millions of masks to state agencies, some hospitals and nonprofits at a markup of more than 100 percent. It would have led to tens of millions of dollars in profits, he said.

The Stephen Gould Corporation said in a statement that it regrets getting caught up in the volatility of the market for protective gear during the initial stages of the pandemic.

“Fortunately, the company terminated those efforts shortly after they began and no medical masks were ever purchased or sold to any North Carolina business,” the firm said. “Moving forward, Stephen Gould Corporation will continue its efforts to be a good corporate citizen in North Carolina, as it has done for the past 35 years.”