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Press Release

Norfolk Man Charged with Price Gouging N95 Masks in Early Months of COVID-19 Pandemic

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Defendant allegedly conspired to sell tens of thousands of masks at excessive markups

BOSTON – A Norfolk, Mass. man has been charged and has agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to price gouge hospitals for scarce N95 filtering facepiece respirators (N95 masks) at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Jason Colantuoni, 35, was charged by an Information with one count of conspiracy to commit price gouging in violation of the Defense Production Act. A plea hearing has not yet been scheduled by the Court. 

According to the charging documents, on March 11, 2020, a longtime friend of Colantuoni (Individual 1) formed a company in Florida in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is alleged that from in or about March 2020 through April 2020, Colantuoni, Individual 1 and the company’s head of sales (Individual 2) conspired to use the company to exploit and profit off of the critical need of hospitals and healthcare workers for scarce N95 masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Specifically, Colantuoni, Individual 1 and Individual 2 allegedly accumulated N95 masks from various sources and then sold the N95 masks through the company to desperate hospitals in Massachusetts and elsewhere at prices in excess of the prevailing market price. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitals to which the company sold N95 masks typically paid approximately $0.44 to $0.70 per respirator. Through the company, Colantuoni, Individual 1 and Individual 2 allegedly offered to sell N95 masks to hospitals for as much as $11.95 per mask.

Through the company, it is alleged that Colantuoni, Individual 1 and Individual 2 sold a total of approximately 1,000 boxes of N95 masks to various hospitals, with each box containing 20 or 30 masks. The weighted average price for the company’s purchases of N95 masks was approximately $4.48 per mask, while the weighted average price for the company’s sales of N95 masks to hospitals was approximately $9.91 per mask.  

The charge of conspiracy to commit price gouging in violation of the Defense Production Act provides for a sentence of up to one year in prison, up to one year of supervised release and a fine of up to $10,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy; Ketty Larco-Ward, Inspector in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Boston Division; Fernando McMillan, Special Agent in Charge of the Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations; Christopher Algieri, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, Northeast Field Office; Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; and Michael J. Krol, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New England made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bill Brady and Howard Locker of the Health Care Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.

On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit and
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated September 5, 2023