A.G. Schneiderman Cracks Down On Gas Stations That Engaged In Hurricane Sandy Price Gouging

Attorney General Announces Lawsuits Against Four Service Stations, Settlements With 25 More For Gouging Customers In Westchester, NYC And On Long Island After Storm

Schneiderman: We Will Continue To Protect New Yorkers From Gougers

 

NEW YORK – As part of an ongoing probe of high gasoline prices in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that he is filing lawsuits against four service stations for violations of the New York State Price Gouging statute and has reached monetary settlements with 25 other service stations totaling $167,850.Investigations are pending against dozens of other gas stations.

The lawsuits, filed in Kings, Nassau and Suffolk County Supreme Courts accuse the stations of charging consumers unconscionably excessive prices in the days immediately following Hurricane Sandy last November.In the days after the storm, areas of New York saw some of the largest jumps in gas prices in state history.The settlements require that those gas stations pay penalties to the state.

“Six months ago this week, as New Yorkers were sitting in lines waiting for hours to buy critical supplies of gasoline, some shady business owners were trying to make a fast buck at their expense,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Today, we are sending a powerful message that ripping off New Yorkers during a time of crisis is against the law and we will do everything in our power to hold them accountable.”

Gasoline price jumps in the wake of the hurricaneresulted in hundreds of complaints received by Attorney General Schneiderman’s office and showed that prices were changing at the pump, not only overnight but several times a day.

New York State’s Price Gouging Law (General Business Law § 396-r) prohibits merchants from taking unfair advantage of consumers by selling goods or services for an "unconscionably excessive price" during natural disasters. The price gouging law covers New York State vendors, retailers and suppliers. The law specifically says that a price may be considered excessive if there is a "gross disparity" between the prices charged immediately before and after the emergency and the disparity is not attributable to higher costs imposed upon the seller.

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman said, “It’s appalling that gasoline stations in the areas decimated by Superstorm Sandy were price-gouging their customers, many of whom were without heat or electricity. We cannot tolerate this outrageous business practice and I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for taking the lead in holding the gas station owners accountable.”

“When Hurricane Sandy hit, the great majority of New Yorkers pitched in and did what was needed to help each other get through the storm and the hardships that followed," said New York State Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh. "It’s unfortunate that some people seem to have taken advantage of the crisis and engaged in illegal price gouging. The people of New York deserve better, and I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for his efforts to ensure that the law is enforced and justice is done.”

"It sickens me to know that at a time when New Yorkers were at their most vulnerable, some gas stations were at their most greedy." said Council Member Daniel Garodnick, Chair of the City Council's Consumer Affairs Committee.  "This behavior is never acceptable, but in the days after Sandy it shows a staggering level of opportunism."

David Yassky, the chairman of the Taxi and Limousine Commission said, “The transportation provided by taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers  in the days before the MTA was back up and running was vital to our city’s recovery from Sandy, and to see some of these hardworking men and women fall victim to fuel gougers was unjust and frankly offensive.  I am grateful to the Attorney General and his staff for making sure that violators will be held accountable for their actions.”

Livery Base Owners Spokesperson Cira Angeles said, “Livery drivers provided essential services before and in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In addition to the problems created by the gas shortage, our drivers suffered the abuse of some unscrupulous individuals that took advantage of this crisis to make an extra buck, making it more difficult for New Yorkers to get alternative transportation. We commend Attorney General Schneiderman for holding price gougers accountable and sending a strong message that natural disasters are no excuse to rip-off our fellow New Yorkers.”

(All prices are for regular gasoline. The spread is the difference between the wholesale price paid by the operator and the price charged at the pump.)

The four gas stations named in lawsuits today are:

Greenpoint Truck Stop, Inc/Sonomax, 278 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $0.98
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.85
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 88%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.59

AGIP Gas, LLC/USA Petroleum, 11 East Main Street, East Islip, NY 11730

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $1.07
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.45
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 35%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.59

Mena Inter Inc./USA Petroleum, 630 Main Street, Farmingdale, NY 11735

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $1.04
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.80
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 73%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.59

The 900 N. Broadway, LLC/BP, 900 N. Broadway, Massapequa, NY 11758

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $0.78
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.18
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 51%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.29

Settlements have been reached with the following service stations:

In New York City:

Alliance Energy/Lukoil, 600 Pelham Parkway, Bronx, NY 10462

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $0.82
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.93
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 135%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $5.39

E-Z Station, Inc./Mobil, 40-40 Crescent Street, Long Island City, NY 11101

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $1.03
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $2.08
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 102%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.89

On Long Island:

SJM Petroleum/BP, 1009 State Rt. 109, Farmingdale, NY 11735

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $0.93
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.65
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 77%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.59

BP/Lightning Petroleum, 1007 W. Jericho Turnpike, Smithtown, NY 11787

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $0.92
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.54
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 67%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.48

BP/King of Sunrise, Inc., 700 W Sunrise Highway, Valley Stream, NY 11580

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $0.95
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.59
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 67%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.59

Broadway Auto Care, 351 Scranton Avenue, Lynbrook, NY 11563

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $1.10
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.54
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 40%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.34

Citgo, 1090 Portion Road, Farmingville, NY 11738

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $0.93
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.44
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 55%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.29

United Technical Group Inc./ Sunoco, 900 Atlantic Avenue, Baldwin, NY 11510

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $0.77
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.13
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 46%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.19

Greenvale Oil Inc./BP, 724 Elmont Road, Elmont, NY 11003

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $0.82
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.23
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 50%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.20

Citgo, 1050 Udall Road, Bay Shore, NY 11706

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $1.05
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.63
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 55%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.49

East End Marketing, 2670 North Jerusalem Avenue, North Bellmore, NY 11710

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $1.07
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.52
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 42%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.31

East End Marketing Corp, 235 Merritts Road, Farmingdale, NY 11735

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $1.08
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.53
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 41%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.32

Road Ready, 2786 North Jerusalem Road, North Bellmore, NY 11710

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $1.03
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.39
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 34%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.20

Greenvale Service Station, 120 Northen Boulevard, Greenvale, NY 11548

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $1.20
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.62
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 35%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.40

Setauket Food Mart/BP, 728 Rte 25A, East Setauket, NY 11733

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $0.95
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.45
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 52%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.39

BP, 1577 Merrick Road, Merrick, NY 11566

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $0.92
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.20
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 30%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.12

Virgin International/Coastal, 1575 Route 112, Port Jefferson, NY 11776

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $1.37
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.77
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 29%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.59

S&Z Best Inc/Citgo, 1338 Hempstead Turnpike, Elmont, NY 11003

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $1.09
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.38
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 27%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.12

3300 HT Corp, 3300 HempsteadTurnpike, Levittown, NY 11756

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $1.10
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.41
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 28%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.52

Al's One Stop Auto/Shell, 516 Merrick Road, Rockville Center, New York 11570

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $0.83
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.08
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 30%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.05

Hill Enterprise, Inc/Citgo, 3818 Sunrise Highway, Seaford, New York 11783

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $1.20
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.78
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 48%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.59

267 East Main Street Realty Corp./Coastal, 267 East Main Street, Patchogue, New York 11772

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $.041
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $0.62
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 51%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.09

In Rockland County:

Citgo/ Enterprises, Inc., 162 E. Rte 59, Spring Valley, NY 10977

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $1.11
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.57
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 41%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.59

In Westchester County:

Shell/JB Auto Center Limited, 1069 Yonkers Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10704

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $1.11
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.55
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 40%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.48

Shell/City Limits, 143 Bronx River Road, Yonkers, NY 10704

  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price prior to storm: $1.07
  • Difference between wholesale price and retail price immediately following storm: $1.53
  • Increase in wholesale/retail spread before-and-after the storm: 43%
  • Retail price immediately following the storm: $4.47

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Nassau Regional Office Valerie Singleton, Assistant Attorney General Sandra Giorno-Tocco of the Westchester Regional Office, Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Westchester Regional Office Gary Brown, Assistant Attorney General Judith Malkin of the Syracuse Regional Office, Assistant Attorney General James Morrissey of the Buffalo Regional Office, Assistant Attorney General Matthew Eubank of the Brooklyn Regional Office, Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Brooklyn Regional Office Lois Booker-Williams, Assistant Attorney General Michael Danaher of the Binghamton Regional Office, under the overall supervision of Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Martin J. Mack. These cases were also handled by Assistant Attorneys General Mary Alestra and Melissa O’Neill of the Bureau of Consumer Frauds & Protection, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Laura J. Levine, Bureau Chief Jane M. Azia, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Karla G. Sanchez.

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