Chandler man who sold thousands of fake masks avoids jail

File photo of 3M N-95 mask.
File photo of 3M N-95 mask.(MGN)
Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 12:33 PM MST
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PHOENIX (AP) — A suburban Phoenix man who knowingly sold thousands of counterfeit N95 masks during the height of the pandemic will not face jail time.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Arizona said in a news release Friday that 68-year-old Mark Forrest Cohn, of Chandler, has been sentenced to one year of probation. He must also pay restitution of more than $8,000 in tariffs and taxes.

His sentence was part of an agreement to plead guilty to one felony count of entry of goods by means of false statements.

Prosecutors say Cohn imported N95 masks from China in October 2020 that appeared to be manufactured by 3M. Shipping labels were made to keep up the appearance that the masks were goods not subject to inspection by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A box of the masks that arrived at a Phoenix was inspected. Pictures of the masks were shared with 3M. The company confirmed the masks were fake.

Investigators determined Cohn had sold 20,000 counterfeit masks to a third-party vendor. The vendor provided the masks to a Veterans Affairs Medical Center warehouse in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The masks were to go to frontline health workers for protection against COVID-19.

Authorities say the vendor was not aware they were fake.