SALT LAKE CITY – A Park City man has been charged in federal court after authorities said he claimed to have access to millions of N95 masks made by 3M and allegedly made fraudulent representations trying to sell them.
Turns out, John Anthony Taylor, 46, did not have the masks nor was he an authorized representative of 3M.
“Rooting out pandemic-related fraud is one the highest priorities for the Department of Justice and my office. Experienced investigators and prosecutors are dedicated to holding accountable those who would use this challenging environment to pad their own pockets,” U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said today.
Taylor is the founder and owner of Positive Marketing, LLC, and Wasatch Promotional Products, LLC.
In April 2020, the FBI in Houston, Texas, was contacted by an attorney representing a medical company concerned about another business saying they had access to one billion 3M N95 masks but they knew production numbers of N95 masks were well below a billion a month.
The FBI identified Taylor through their investigation and an undercover agent made contact with Taylor and asked for documents proving Taylor actually had the masks. Taylor sent an email with a fake purchase order from 3M, but the company confirmed it has no relationship with Taylor.
According to the indictment, Taylor also made additional alleged false allegations including:
- He was a representative for the 3M company and was authorized to sell its 1860 N95 masks
- Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he had recently started to focus on selling masks through his business, Wasatch Promotional Products
- He had contracts for “a million, 30 million, 60 million [masks] for a couple of different state governments”
- He had completed several shipments of 3M 8210 masks
- He could broker a deal for 3 million 1860 N95 masks for $5.49 per mask
- He would receive “lot numbers” and show “proof of life” to prove that the order was legitimate
- He had successfully brokered deals with 3M previously
- A purchase order he attached to an email was from 3M
Taylor made his initial appearance in federal court on May 4 and was allowed a pre-trial release under special conditions. On Tuesday, Taylor pleaded not guilty to one count of wire fraud.
A three-day trial is set for Nov. 23, 2020, before U.S. District Judge David Sam. The potential maximum penalty for the charge in the indictment is 20 years in federal prison.
Individuals charged in indictments are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Utah U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City are prosecuting the case. Special agents of the FBI in Houston, with the assistance of the FBI in Salt Lake City, are conducting the investigation