HOUSTON – A Houston man has been sentenced to more than four years in federal prison for scheming to fraudulently sell 50 million non-existent N95 facemasks to the Australian government, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Arael Doolittle, 56, pleaded guilty on July 27, 2021. He was sentenced to 54 months in federal prison.
In April 2020, authorities said Doolittle attempted to sell 50 million 3M N95 respirator masks to the government of Australia. However, he actually did not possess the masks.
The Australian government was supposed to pay over $317 million for the masks, but authorities disrupted the transaction before it was completed.
Doolittle was also charged and convicted in a separate case for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In that scheme, court records show he solicited victims to invest in a petroleum trading company. However, Doolittle did not invest their money as promised. Instead, authorities said he used the funds to finance unrelated business and personal expenses.
Doolittle reportedly defrauded the victims of this petroleum trading scheme out of a total of $1,935,613.95. He was previously ordered to serve a 54-month sentence.
The two sentences are ordered to be served consecutively, resulting in a total of 108 months in prison.
Doolittle has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 866-720-5721 or via the NCDF Web Complaint Form