Man arrested for assaulting FBI Agents, hoarding enough medical supplies to outfit an entire hospital

A Brooklyn man was arrested yesterday for allegedly coughing on FBI agents while claiming to have COVID-19, and with lying to them about his accumulation and sale of surgical masks, medical gowns, and other medical supplies, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Baruch Feldheim, 43, was arrested by special agents of the FBI today and charged by complaint with assaulting a federal officer and with making false statements to law enforcement. Feldheim is scheduled to have his initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On March 25, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services issued an executive order designating certain scarce health and medical resources necessary to respond to the spread of the Coronavirus. Those designated materials included N95 filtering face-piece respirators, personal protection equipment (PPE) face masks, surgical masks, sterilization services, and disinfecting devices, among other things.

Feldheim allegedly sold certain designated materials, including N95 respirators, to doctors and nurses at inflated prices. In one instance, on March 18, 2020, a doctor in New Jersey contacted Feldheim via a WhatsApp chat group labeled “Virus2020!” Feldheim agreed to sell to the doctor approximately 1,000 N95 masks and other assorted materials for $12,000, an approximately 700 percent markup from the normal price charged for those materials. Feldheim directed the doctor to an auto repair shop in Irvington, New Jersey, to pick up the order. According to the doctor, the repair shop contained enough materials, including hand sanitizers, Clorox wipes, chemical cleaning supply agents, and surgical supplies, to outfit an entire hospital. Feldheim later told the doctor that he had been forced to move all of those supplies from Irvington to another location.

On March 23, 2020, Feldheim allegedly offered to sell a nurse a quantity of surgical gowns and directed the nurse to his residence in Brooklyn. Feldheim also received, on March 25, 2020, a shipment from Canada containing approximately eight pallets of medical facemasks. On March 27, 2020, FBI agents observed an empty box of N95 masks outside of Feldheim’s residence.

On March 29, 2020, FBI agents witnessed multiple instances during which individuals approached Feldheim’s residence and walked away with boxes or bags that appeared to contain medical supplies. On that date, FBI agents approached Feldheim outside of his residence. After identifying themselves as FBI agents, they told Feldheim that they wanted to stay a distance away from him given concerns over the spread of Coronavirus. When the agents were within four to five feet of him, Feldheim allegedly coughed in their direction without covering his mouth. The agents then told him that they were looking for certain PPE materials and that they had information that Feldheim was in possession of large quantities of such materials. At that point, Feldheim told the FBI agents that that he had the Coronavirus.

Feldheim then made false statements to the FBI agents regarding his possession and sale of personal protective equipment and other materials. He falsely told the agents, among other things, that he worked for a company that bought and sold personal protective equipment and other materials and that he never took physical custody of the materials. Feldheim further falsely stated that he did not possess large quantities of personal protective equipment materials and that he never sold them directly to individuals.

The assault charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. The false statements charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The supplies have been distributed to hospitals.

Please report COVID-19 fraud, hoarding, or price-gouging to the National Center for Disaster Fraud’s National Hotline at (866) 720-5721 or e-mail disaster@leo.gov.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Fayer of the Economic Crimes Unit.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

New Bedford Symphony Orchestra to live stream FREE soiree of eclectic music

Tune in on our website or on Facebook to join Emma Lee Holmes-Hicks (violin) and Piero Guimaraes (percussion) Saturday at 7pm EDT for another evening soiree of eclectic music. Peter is not able to join the fun this time, but we are looking forward to performing that program with him soon.

In the meantime, we will take you on a musical journey through the History of Tango by Piazzolla, a new commission based on Brazilian proverbs by Kirsten Volness, a groovy duo for marimba and violin and we may even throw in a few fiddle tunes to top it off. Grab a drink, stay in your PJs and join us from the couch. We are looking forward to spending another evening with you, even if it has to be from a distance!

We will have two options to view this live stream: (1) If you have a Facebook account, go to the NBSO Facebook Live Videos page where you will see current and past live videos. Click on the “Emmy and the P’s” title to open the post so that you can comment and see others’ comments, or (2) go to our website and look for the Events tab, then Upcoming Events and click on the Emmy and the P’s box. Simply scroll down to find the video there.

Both options will not appear until very close to 7pm and the performance may start a bit late. And remember, if you miss it, you can view in either place for many days to come!

Facebook note: If you go to our main Facebook page to view the concert, please be sure to scroll down until you see the post with the live video. The EVENT will appear first, but the concert will appear in the POST further down the page.

Massachusetts State Police and National Guardsmen provide security for New England Patriots plane carrying critically-needed medical masks

“State Public Safety Secretary Thomas Turco, Massachusetts State Police Colonel Chris Mason, and numerous MSP Troopers and Massachusetts National Guardsmen were on hand this afternoon at Logan International Airport to provide security for the arrival of the New England Patriots plane carrying a shipment of more than a million critically-needed medical masks. The masks will be provided to health care personnel treating Coronavirus victims in Massachusetts and New York.

The acquisition of the approximately 1.2 million masks from China was accomplished by Governor Baker. Patriots owner Robert Kraft donated the team’s plane and flight crew to pick up and transport the masks to Massachusetts.

From Logan, the masks are being distributed to a Massachusetts site from where they will be distributed to various hospitals, with a separate portion of them being trucked to New York City for medical personnel there.

Massachusetts State Police photo.

The National Guard is undertaking the shipment to the Marlboro, Mass., equipment marshaling and distribution site, with MSP Troopers escorting them.

The second shipment of masks from Logan to New York City is being transported by the Patriots’ tractor-trailer unit. MSP Troopers will escort that shipment the entire route to its destination in NYC. Along the transport route, MSP cruisers providing the escort will be joined periodically by cruisers from Rhode Island State Police, Connecticut State Police, New York State Police, and New York Police.

Additionally, while in the Tri-State area, the MSP Troopers will fulfill a side mission in support of New Jersey State Police. NJSP personnel are in need of additional personal protective equipment. The MSP escort cruisers are carrying 2,000 protective masks and a supply of hand sanitizer from our Department stockpiles. The MSP escort cruisers will meet up with a NJSP and transfer the supplies to them to help keep their Troopers safe.”

Massachusetts State Police photo.

Massachusetts State Police photo.

Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech distributes Chromebooks to students

Greater New Bedford Voc Tech distributed several chromebooks to students in an effort to give all students accessibility to technology throughout the extended school closure. Members of the IT department, maintenance staff, and Officer Fisher facilitated the no contact, curbside pickup for families. This technology is essential for student success in distance learning during the school closure. Although this type of teaching and learning is a transition for everyone involved, we can be sure that students at Greater New Bedford Voc Tech with persevere through these times.

#GNBVTinformationtechnology #Perseverance #SocialDistancing

Gov. Baker: Model predicts up to 172,000 sick, 2,580 dead from COVID-19 in Massachusetts

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration’s COVID-19 Response Command Center today outlined projections related to the anticipated surge of COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth. The projections are the result of the Command Center’s work with medical experts to complete modeling of the outbreak in Massachusetts. The Administration also detailed its efforts to respond to this surge, including a significant increase in hospital capacity, staffing, and equipment.

COVID-19 Surge Planning:

Modeling and Projections:
The Administration’s COVID-19 Response Command Center has been working with its Advisory Board of medical experts and epidemiologists from Harvard University, University of Guelph and Northeastern to refine models related to the expected surge of COVID-19 cases. These efforts include modeling the surge’s timing, number of cases, necessary bed capacity, and work to find facilities that will meet overfill capacity. The model’s projections are based on the experience of Wuhan, China, but Massachusetts’ trajectory could differ due to lower population density, lower smoking rates, and earlier social distancing measures. The Command Center has also been comparing to experience in other states and around the world.

The model’s latest projections estimate that the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts could range from 47,000 to 172,000 (or 0.7% to 2.5% of the total population of Massachusetts). The models show hospitalizations would potentially peak between April 10-20. The current fatality rate in Massachusetts is lower than other areas – it is approximately 1.5% of those infected. The Command Center is monitoring this statistic closely.

The COVID-19 Response Command Center is working with hospitals to provide them with flexibility to expand ICU capacity. The Commonwealth is asking academic medical centers and teaching hospitals to work to significantly expand their ICU capacity. But after hospitals execute on their surge plans, the model estimates there could be a remaining gap in ICU capacity of more than 500 beds.

Response Efforts:
In response, the Administration is aiming to find or build an additional 750 – 1000 beds in field medical hospitals and other alternate care sites to reduce strain on hospitals as much as possible. Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito visited the first of these Field Medical Stations at the DCU Center yesterday.

The Administration has identified additional possible sites for Field Medical Stations including the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Joint Base Cape Cod, Springfield’s Mass Mutual Building and other smaller locations. The Administration has secured a contractor who can build out sites once a healthcare partner has been finalized.

The Command Center is also securing 1000 beds in capacity for step-down care options in nursing facilities for stabilized COVID-19 positive patients who can be transferred out of the hospital to make room for those with higher medical need.

Gov. Baker adds additional steps to encourage social distancing at State parks and beaches

BOSTON — Governor Charlie Baker today issued an emergency order requiring all coastal beach reservation parking areas managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to close effective 12:00 PM on Friday, April 3, 2020 to reduce large concentrations of people at beaches during the COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, effective 12:00 PM on Friday, April 3, 2020, DCR will open select seasonal state parks early and expand access at other parks to provide additional open space opportunities for residents to enjoy and alternatives to popular state parks throughout the Commonwealth.

Coastal parkways that provide access to state beaches will also be closed to both parking and dropping off passengers. State beaches will remain open and available to pedestrians for transitory use only (walking, jogging, biking, solitary fishing, etc.). A link to find specific parking and traffic restrictions can be found here.

State parks and associated parking areas remain open at this time; however, the public is asked to visit state parks and other open space properties that are located near their homes to ensure social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, DCR’s agency-owned ice rinks, visitor centers, campgrounds, playgrounds, fitness areas, athletic fields, athletic courts, golf courses, and bathroom facilities will remain closed until Monday, May 4, 2020.

DCR will also be limiting the amount of parking spaces available at certain high-visitation state parks. DCR continues to stress that if a park is crowded, visitors should consider visiting a different location or returning at a later date or time. The state parks system has over 450,000 acres of property, and every region of the state contains multiple parks to explore that may be less busy than others in the area. DCR advises visitors of state parks to:

· Stay within solitary or small groups, and avoid gatherings of ten or more people;
· Practice social distancing of at least six feet between individuals;
· Participate in only non-contact recreational activities;
· Practice healthy personal hygiene, such as handwashing for at least 20 seconds; and,
· Stay home if ill, over 70, and/or part of a vulnerable population.

To centralize COVID-19 updates that impact the state parks system, DCR recently developed a Massachusetts State Parks COVID-19 Updates webpage. Prior to visiting a state parks property, members of the public should review the contents of the webpage. Furthermore, for information about the Baker-Polito Administration’s ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, please visit the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) website.

Bristol County Sheriff health care professional tests positive for COVID-19

The following is a press release from the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office:

“A health care professional working at the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office has tested positive for COVID-19.

The nurse, an employee of the BCSO’s contracted medical vendor Correctional Psychiatric Services, developed a low-grade fever around 6 a.m. on March 25 near the end of an overnight shift. Upon confirming her fever, she donned a ppe mask, left the facility, contacted her physician and has not been back since.

Late Wednesday, April 1, she received a positive test for COVID-19. She has been symptom-free since March 25 and will remain away from the BCSO for the time being.
The nurse worked in the Women’s Center and ICE facility before going home with a fever on March 25.

Information provided by the CDC and DPH indicate that symptoms of COVID-19 exposure are most likely to occur during the fifth through eighth days of the 14-day incubation period, which in this case was between March 29 and April 1.

“It’s encouraging that she’s had no symptoms for a week and is feeling well,” Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson said. “It’s also encouraging that no other BCSO or CPS staff members, nor any inmates or detainees, have reported symptoms.

“We wish her a safe, speedy recovery.”

On Thursday, medical professionals are meeting with detainees in the ICE facility and inmates in the Women’s Center to answer any questions about the nurse’s positive test.
Over the past month, the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office has instituted many protocols to protect inmates, detainees and staff from the Coronavirus outbreak, which include:

· All areas of the facility are being cleaned\disinfected on every shift every day
· Staff members are being screened before entering the buildings; new arriving inmates are being screened before being accepted into custody
· In-person visitation and has been suspended to limit the number of people coming in and out.

Currently, there are no inmates, detainees or other staff members with Coronavirus or showing symptoms of Coronavirus. Any headlines or press releases from political activist organization claiming infections or outbreaks are completely false and reckless.”

New Bedford at 42 positive cases for COVID-19 on Thursday

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell’s office reported this morning that New Bedford has a total of 42 positive cases of COVID-19, up from the 33 cases they reported on Wednesday. Yesterday, he reported Fairhaven with 12 positive cases and Dartmouth as unknown at this time.

Yesterday, Mayor Jon Mitchell and the Board of Health have acted to protect residents including seniors in New Bedford, announcing stringent measures on wellness checks, quarantining, and isolation requirements for senior living facilities and nursing homes, as well as lodging houses, in New Bedford. Full details here.

According to the Massachusetts Public Health Department, the state added 1,118 more positive cases of COVID-19 bringing to total to 7,738 as of 4 pm on Wednesday. For the second straight day, 33 people died from the virus bringing the total deaths in Massachusetts to 122. Break out by county can be seen here.

According to Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan on Wednesday, Fall River now has 31 confirmed cases of COVID-19..

Bristol County is now up to 366 confirmed cases as of 4 pm on Wednesday.

Yesterday at 4pm, Massachusetts Public health officials report 33 new deaths and 868 more positive cases since Monday from COVID-19.

Governor Baker has stated on Monday that a surge in coronavirus cases could start to hit Massachusetts between April 7 and April 17, stressing the importance of taking steps to prepare additional health care capacity.

Massachusetts COVID-19 positive cases jump by 1,118 with 33 more deaths since Tuesday

According to the Massachusetts Public Health Department, the state added 1,118 more positive cases of COVID-19 bringing to total to 7,738. For the second straight day, 33 people died from the virus bringing the total deaths in Massachusetts to 122.

As of 4 pm today, 51,738 people in Massachusetts have been tested for COVID-19 – 4,803 in the past 24 hours. In total, 8,394 people in Massachusetts have been quarantined – 5,176 are still in quarantine and 3,218 have been released from quarantine.

At an 11 am press conference, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell reported that New Bedford has a total of 33 positive cases of COVID-19, up from 31 cases on Tuesday. He also reported Fairhaven with 12 positive cases and Dartmouth as unknown at this time.

According to Fall River Mayor Paul Coogan on Tuesday, Fall River now has 23 confirmed cases of COVID-19.. Bristol County is now up to 366 confirmed cases as of 4 pm on today.

According to the CDC, as of April 1st, the total amount of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. stands at 186,101 with 3,603 dead.

Mitchell: Not many New Bedford scallopers going out because of drop in demand

By Matt Murphy
State House News Service

On the opening day of scallop season in the country’s largest fishing port, New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell should have been celebrating the departure of boats from his city’s piers.

Instead, the mayor of the mid-sized city on the South Coast was laying out his administration’s latest efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus in New Bedford’s nursing homes, and urging residents to practice vigilant social distancing.

The city, he said, had even resorted to taking the rims off the basketball hoops at many of the New Bedford’s most popular courts.

“We do know this. The virus is here and it is spreading,” Mitchell said from a podium in front of the steps outside City Hall.

A city with about 95,000 residents, New Bedford has 31 confirmed cases of COVID-19, though the mayor said it’s difficult to know exactly how quickly the virus is spreading in his city. What city officials do know, however, is that elderly populations are at particularly high risk from the virus, and New Bedford’s population “skews elderly.”

“This is a real soft spot,” he said.

Mitchell urged seniors who live at home to stay there and take advantage of programs like Meals-on-Wheels or ask for assistance getting supplies. But for those who do live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, Mitchell and the Board of Public Health rolled out two new orders requiring twice-daily monitoring of the temperatures of all staff, regular checks on residents, and strict hygiene requirements.

“It’s our job to make sure these places are buttoned up so the virus doesn’t get in. It’s as plain and simple as that,” Mitchell said.

Facilities found to be in violation of the new order will be giving warnings, Mitchell said, but could face fines of $500 a day. Mitchell said he was issuing a second order putting similar requirements in place at group homes.

“When it comes to our seniors, there’s very little margin for error,” the mayor said.

Earlier this month, Gov. Charlie Baker and the Department of Public Health had already put in place restrictions, consistent with federal guidelines, prohibiting most visitors to nursing homes and long-term care facilities and requiring anyone admitted to the facility to be screened for symptoms.

Mitchell acknowledged that the social restrictions being imposed on residents were challenging, but he pleaded with people to continue to observe the recommendations.

“The objective is to slow the rate of the spread of disease and more people will pick up immunity and the cases will drop. We’re nowhere near that point so we just have to stick with it,” he said.

Mitchell said the city, as well as SouthCoast Health, were in need of personal protective equipment like other places around the state, including 20,000 N95 masks that he was working to procure.

And he said employers in the area were struggling, including the Joseph Abboud and Titleist factories, where workers had been furloughed, and the city’s restaurants that had either closed or were struggling to make ends meet with take-out business.

“Nobody’s at par right now, and it stinks. It does. But this is what we’re dealing with right now,” he said.

As for that iconic fishing industry that New Bedford is known, it is not immune either.

“April 1 is start of the scallop season,” Mitchell said, “And there aren’t that many scallopers going out because of the drop in demand.”

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