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2 Houston men trick foreign government in $317 million con involving N95 masks, DOJ says

Paschal Ngozi Eleanya, 46, and Arael Doolittle, 55, are facing a three-count indictment that includes wire fraud and conspiracy.
Credit: KVUE

HOUSTON — Two Houston men have been arrested in a multimillion-dollar plot to sell masks they didn't have to a foreign government, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Paschal Ngozi Eleanya, 46, and Arael Doolittle, 55, are facing a three-count indictment that includes wire fraud and conspiracy.

Eleanya turned himself in Monday while Doolittle was taken into custody by authorities Friday.

They're accused of selling 3M Model 1860 N95 respirator masks to an outside government for $317 million, but prosecutors said the suspects didn't have the product and charged five times the retail price. 

The men expected to pocket $275 million in the plot, according to officials. The targeted government tried wiring the funds, but authorities blocked the transaction.

Eleanya is expected to make his initial appearance before a U.S. judge Tuesday. Doolittle is scheduled for an arraignment and detention hearing Wednesday.

If convicted, both men could face up to five years in prison for conspiracy and up to 20 years in prison for each of the two counts of wire fraud. 

Each of these charges also carry a possible $250,000 maximum fine.

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