HEALTH

Federal agent reportedly accuses Utah business owner of selling fake medical masks, business owner wants them back

Apr 15, 2020, 6:56 PM | Updated: 9:19 pm

(Screengrab from video posted by Douglas Gordon)

(Screengrab from video posted by Douglas Gordon)

PLEASANT GROVE – A Utah business owner is calling out Homeland Security after an agent seized hundreds of protective masks he was trying to sell.  However, officials in law enforcement say there is far more to this story than what is seen on video.

Utah Grand Finale Fireworks Owner Douglas Gordon normally sells fireworks from a stand outside of the Water Gardens Theaters in Pleasant Grove.  However, this week he was selling and giving away different kinds of masks he was able to buy from a manufacturer in China.  He would charge new customers $5 for a mask, but his existing firework clientele would get one for free.

Gordon says that’s when a man approached him and ordered him to stop what he was doing.

“He got out of his car and he came up.  He told me I was selling fake masks and price gouging and that there was no way I could get masks because hospitals and doctors couldn’t even get masks,” Gordon tells KSL.

Gordon recorded a video of the interaction and posted it online.  In the videos, you can hear the man claiming to be federal agent and that he was seizing the masks.  They argued…

 

“We’ve been on the lookout for masks like this.”

“These masks are legit.”

“They’re not, I’m telling you.”

“They ARE legit.”

 

The argument started to get tenser, so, officers from the Pleasant Grove Police Department were called to keep the peace.  Those officers confirmed the man indeed was a Homeland Security agent, and they’ve worked with him in the past.  Feeling he had no choice but to let the masks be taken, Gordon asked to keep a few for his family.  The agent told him the masks wouldn’t do Gordon any good.

“I’m not going to argue about whether they’re good or bad.  I know they’re bad, OK?” the agent says in the video.

Gordon acknowledges these aren’t the N95 masks that are in such high demand, right now.  They’re the KN95, which he claims are the Asian equivalents of the N95.  He says the masks have been approved by the FDA for use in the US, and he wasn’t selling them for medical use.  He refutes any claims of price gouging, saying they cost him around $4 apiece, and he was selling them for $5.  The Pleasant Grove Police Department says federal agents from several different agencies have been ordered to investigate claims of price gouging.

Gordon doesn’t believe the agent had the expertise to know if the masks were counterfeit.

“You can’t identify masks by looking at them unless you get them tested,” Gordon says.

It’s not necessarily a question about whether the masks are legitimate or not.  Public safety is a huge factor in a case like this.  Some law enforcement agencies are receiving reports of counterfeit masks coming from China made from potentially harmful materials that actually make people sicker when they wear them.  They also say when items like this are seized, they aren’t just simply given to doctors and nurses who may want them.  They’ll be inspected by lab technicians.  In the video, you can hear the agent telling Gordon that if the masks are determined to be safe to use, he will give them back.

There are some things people can look for to see if they’re getting a counterfeit N95 mask.  Doctor Jeremy Briggs with the University of Utah says the CDC and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have catalogues of approved mask makers, and each mask should have a NIOSH stamp on it.

“What you can do, if you’re concerned, you can look up that catalogue number and look at the manufacturer and make sure that on NIOSH, those things correlate well,” Briggs says.

If a mask is counterfeit, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad for use outside of a hospital, as long as it’s not made with anything harmful.

“The thought is, we’re helping to protect others from ourselves,” Briggs says.  “If you’re a person that has no symptoms but has the virus, or has minimal symptoms, you wearing a mask protects others more than you wearing a mask protects yourself.”

Last week, CNBC reported that the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Health and Human Services and FEMA were instructed to seize exports of personal protective equipment like N95 respirators, surgical masks, and gloves.  Gordon acknowledges he got the masks straight from the manufacturer.  Technically, they would have fallen under this federal order.

 

RELATED LINKS

Navajo Nation extends weekend lockdowns as virus cases rise

When will you get your stimulus payment?  Here’s how to check

Latter-day Saints sewing millions of masks, providing other global relief projects

 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Health

Rep. Tyler Clancy, R-Provo, speaks about HB261 at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 19,...

Aimee Cobabe

Lawmaker wants to increase maximum amount of time for involuntary civil commitments

Utah lawmakers are supporting a bill to increase the maximum amount of time for involuntary civil commitments.

11 hours ago

woman with a therapeutic device on her head to treat depression...

LAURA UNGAR

A brain pacemaker helped a woman with crippling depression. It may soon be available to more people

Researchers say deep brain stimulation, or DBS — could eventually help many of the nearly 3 million Americans with treatment-resistance depression.

16 hours ago

Mothers and mental health...

Mira Cheng, CNN

Maternal mental health conditions drive climbing death rate in US, research says

The maternal mortality rate in the US is two- to threefold greater than in other high-income countries and increasing.

20 hours ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018....

MEAD GRUVER Associated Press

A Colorado man is dead after a pet Gila monster bite

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death if the creature's venom was the cause.

1 day ago

students walk to a bus, kindness ewalls coming to utah's k-12 schools...

Britt Johnson

Schools in Utah to get Kindness eWalls

Kindness eWalls display positive messages submitted by a school's students, teachers and parents.

2 days ago

Exercise particularly reduced risk of death for women, according to the data....

Madeline Holcombe, CNN

Women might lower their risk for cardiovascular disease by twice the amount as men with exercise

The benefits of exercise are great for everyone – but may be even better for women, according to a new study.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Federal agent reportedly accuses Utah business owner of selling fake medical masks, business owner wants them back