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FBI to investigate, prosecute people hoarding medical supplies in Michigan

The investigation comes amid the coronavirus pandemic

Shoppers walk past empty shelves in a supermarket in Rugby, England, Thursday, March 19, 2020. Supermarkets are limiting the number of similar items shopper can buy to try and halt hoarding and panic buying. According to the World Health Organization, most people recover in about two to six weeks, depending on the severity of the illness. (AP Photo/Martin Cleaver)
Shoppers walk past empty shelves in a supermarket in Rugby, England, Thursday, March 19, 2020. Supermarkets are limiting the number of similar items shopper can buy to try and halt hoarding and panic buying. According to the World Health Organization, most people recover in about two to six weeks, depending on the severity of the illness.
Martin Clever, Associated Press

A U.S. attorney and the FBI in Michigan will soon investigate and prosecute hoarders who are keeping medical supplies, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

What’s going on:

  • U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider and FBI agent Steve D’Antuono announced their plan to investigate hoarders Wednesday.
  • The two will not investigate regular people, though.
  • Schneider said: “We’re not going after regular people in Michigan who are stocking up in a reasonable manner, or businesses who are making smart storage decisions. But if you’re hoarding goods far above what you need, or if you’re trying to rip off the people of Michigan by profiting from the pandemic, we will be targeting you.”
  • Schneider and D’Antuono will work with Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice, and the COVID-19 Price Gouging and Hoarding Task Force to identify cases.

Bigger picture:

  • President Donald Trump issued an executive order on March 23 for the Defense Production Act, which specifically prohibits people from hoarding specific items, CNN reports.
  • The order called for HHS to protect medical and health care items by deeming them as protected.
  • Those items can not be bought in excess or be sold at an excess amount.
  • According to the Department of Justice., violators could be punished up to one year in prison or a $10,000 fine.