ANALYSIS: DOJ’s Approach to Criminal Price-Gouging Taking Shape

May 29, 2020, 1:59 PM

The Justice Department brought two more criminal complaints this week for violations of the Defense Production Act’s prohibition on hoarding scarce materials during the Covid-19 crisis. The complaints filed to date are starting to form a pattern.

The biggest difference in whether charges are brought under the DPA or under other laws appears to be whether the defendants actually had scarce materials to “hoard” for the purpose of charging an excessive price, as 50 U.S.C. § 4512 prohibits. The DPA is a hoarding statute, not a price-gouging statute: it addresses “accumulation” of scarce materials, either “in excess of reasonable demands”...

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