NY cracks down on gas price gouging after Sandy

ALBANY — Twenty-five gas stations have settled price-gouging claims made against them immediately after Superstorm Sandy hit New York, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Thursday.

The stations settled for a total of $167,850 and investigations are pending against dozens of others, Schneiderman said. He said he would sue four more companies that he accuses of participating in some of the biggest jumps in gas prices in state history.

Schneiderman told The Associated Press that the action is part of his continuing investigation into claims of jacking up gas prices in New York City, its suburbs and on Long Island immediately after Sandy slammed the region last fall.

The state settled with a Bronx supplier that charged $1.93 per gallon over the wholesale price, compared with an 82-cent markup before Sandy hit, Schneiderman said. Gas sold at the station for $5.39 a gallon after Sandy.

He said a Long Island City dealer set a retail price of $2.08 per gallon over the wholesale cost after Sandy, when the markup was $1.03 before the storm. Gas sold at those stations for $4.89 a gallon after the storm.

Other settlements include two stations in Westchester County that Schneiderman said marked up the retail price over wholesale by more than 40 percent and a Spring Valley station that marked up the retail price over wholesale by 98 percent.

In addition, he said, he filed lawsuits in Brooklyn and in Long Island's Nassau and Suffolk counties.

A gas shortage became an unexpected and critical problem after Sandy hit, prompting rationing, long lines and National Guardsmen posted at tense scenes at gas stations.

"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," Schneiderman said. "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."

State law includes a provision against price gouging of an "unconscionably excessive price" during natural disasters.

Further details of Schneiderman's actions were to be released later Thursday.