State settles with 20 LI gas stations accused in Sandy gouging

In the weeks after superstorm Sandy, Long Islanders

In the weeks after superstorm Sandy, Long Islanders not only faced long lines for gas but also price gouging. The state has settled with 20 Long Island stations over the matter and is suing others. (Credit: Newsday, 2012 / John Paraskevas)

New York State has reached settlements with 20 gas stations on Long Island that were accused of price gouging after superstorm Sandy, and filed lawsuits against three others Wednesday, officials said.

State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman secured more than $124,000 in settlement payments from local stations, out of $167,850 collected statewide from 25 retailers.

Four gas stations also were sued across the state as part of the first enforcement actions since Schneiderman began investigating consumer complaints of exorbitant gas prices in the wake of the Oct. 29 storm. He is expected Thursday morning to make a formal announcement in Manhattan.

"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.

"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 defines an "unconscionably excessive price" as one where there is a "gross disparity" between prices charged immediately before an emergency and after it has occurred, and the disparity isn't because of higher costs imposed on the retailer by suppliers.

State prosecutors looked at increases in the spread between what the stations paid for gasoline and what they charged customers -- before Sandy and afterward. Stations that settled neither admitted nor denied guilt.

According to the attorney general's office, the top gougers on Long Island, their address, increase in spread, amount charged for a gallon of regular gas and status of the charges were:

BP, 1009 Rte. 109, Farmingdale, 77 percent, $4.59, settled

USA Petroleum, 630 Main St., Farmingdale, 73 percent, $4.59, lawsuit filed

BP, 1007 W, Jericho Tpke., Smithtown, 69 percent, $4.48, settled

A message left for owners of USA Petroleum wasn't returned. The top official at the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association also didn't respond to messages.

Other local stations sued Wednesday:

USA Petroleum, 11 Main St. in East Islip, allegedly had a price spread increase of 35 percent and charged $4.59 per gallon for regular gasoline after Sandy. The owner couldn't be reached for comment.

BP, 900 North Broadway in Massapequa, allegedly had a price spread increase of 51 percent and charged $4.29. A manager didn't return a message.

Officials at the attorney general's office told Newsday they had received "hundreds" of complaints of price gouging by stations after the storm, many from Long Islanders. The probe continues, they said.

Statewide, the biggest gouger was Lukoil, 600 Pelham Pkwy. in the Bronx, which settled charges of having a price spread increase of 135 percent and charging $5.39 per gallon.

BIGGEST GOUGERS

Here are the stations accused of having the greatest increases between what they paid for gas and what they charged consumers -- before Sandy and afterward.

BP, 1009 Rte. 109, Farmingdale 77 percent

USA Petroleum, 630 Main St., Farmingdale 73 percent

BP, 1007 W. Jericho Tpke., Smithtown 69 percent

BP, 700 W. Sunrise Hwy., Valley Stream 67 percent

Citgo, 1090 Portion Rd., Farmingville 55 percent

BP, 728 Route 25A, East Setauket, 52 percent

Coastal, 267 East Main St., Patchogue, 51 percent

BP, 900 N. Broadway, Massapequa, 51%

BP, 724 Elmont Rd., Elmont, 49 percent

Citgo, 1050 Udall Rd., Bay Shore, 47 percent

Citgo, 3818 Sunrise Hwy., Seaford, 47 percent

Sunoco, 900 Atlantic Ave., Baldwin, 46%

Shamrock, 2658 N. Jerusalem Rd., North Bellmore, 42 percent

East End Marketing Corp., 235 Merritts Rd., Farmingdale, 41 percent

Broadway Auto Care, 351 Scranton Ave., Lynbrook, 40 percent

USA Petroleum, 11 Main St., East Islip, 35 percent

Greenvale Service Station, 120 Northern Blvd., Greenvale, 34 percent

Road Ready, 2786 N. Jerusalem Rd., North Bellmore, 34 percent

BP, 1577 Merrick Rd., Merrick, 30 percent

Shell, 516 Merrick Rd., Rockville Centre, 29 percent

Coastal, 1575 Rte. 112, Port Jefferson, 29 percent

Ultra JT, 3300 Hempstead Tpke., Levittown, 28 percent

Citgo, 1338 Hempstead Tpke., Elmont, 27 percent

Source: NYS Attorney General

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