4 LI gas stations accused of price gouging

A man fills up his gas can while A man fills up his gas can while others wait in line at a gas station in Miller Place. (Nov. 4, 2012) Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

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Four service stations on Long Island were accused Thursday by the state attorney general of charging as much as $9 per gallon for regular gasoline after superstorm Sandy.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman sent letters to the station owners, saying he planned to start "enforcement proceedings" against them for violating the state's price-gouging law. He requested information on how much the stations paid for gas and how much they charged motorists in the wake of the Oct. 29 storm.

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    The local stations are among 13 in the metropolitan area that Schneiderman moved against as part of a probe announced Nov. 5. More retailers likely will be implicated.

    According to the attorney general's office, the Long Island stations accused of price-gouging, their address and amount charged for a gallon of regular gasoline are:

    Shell, 408 Rockaway Tpke., Cedarhurst, $5.05

    Express Mart/Babylon Gas Station, 1000 Rte. 109, Lindenhurst, $4.99

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    USA Petroleum, 11 E. Main St., East Islip, $6.75

    USA Petroleum, 2664 Rte. 112, Medford, $9

    "We will do everything we can to stop unscrupulous individuals from taking advantage of New Yorkers trying to rebuild their lives," Schneiderman said.

    He singled out the Express Mart in Lindenhurst, saying a motorist complained there were no road signs indicating the gas prices, only a plywood sign stating that only cash would be accepted. When the motorist pulled up to the pump after waiting in a long line, he was told the price of regular was $4.99 per gallon. The motorist filled up because he needed gas, Schneiderman said.

    Eugene Schwartz, manager of the Express Mart, denied the allegations Thursday night.

    "If [Schneiderman] can prove it, I will give him a free tank of gas. It's impossible because the computer sets the gas price. . . . This is not true," Schwartz said.

    An attendant at the USA Petroleum station in Medford referred a reporter to the owner, who wasn't immediately available to comment. Others could not be reached.

    Schneiderman's office has received close to 700 complaints about post-Sandy price gouging, with about half from Long Islanders. Most of the complaints are about exorbitant gasoline prices.

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    Consumers can file a complaint by calling 800-771-7755 or filling out a form at ag.ny.gov/hurricane-sandy-price-gouging-complaint-form. They should keep receipts, if they have them. With Lisa Du

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