The owners of two gas stations in Yonkers -- and another in Spring Valley -- took advantage of desperate customers in the wake of superstorm Sandy by raising prices by 40 percent or more, New York's attorney general said Wednesday.
The Hudson Valley owners were among 25 who reached settlements with state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office, and Schneiderman announced he'll file lawsuits against four others who refused to settle.
The Hudson Valley gas stations are Shell/JB Auto Center Limited, 1069 Yonkers Ave., Yonkers, which raised retail prices by 44 cents per gallon after the storm; Shell/City Limits, 143 Bronx River Rd., Yonkers, which raised per-gallon prices by 46 cents after the storm; and Citgo Enterprises Inc., 162 E. Route 59, Spring Valley, which charged customers an additional 78 cents per gallon to fuel up after the storm, Schneiderman's office said.
The owners of those gas stations changed their prices "several times a day," according to hundreds of complaints fielded by the attorney general's office. Noting that drivers already were dealing with long lines for gas and in many cases were unable to fuel up after waiting, Schneiderman said the stations charged an "unconscionably excessive price," taking advantage of the hurricane's aftermath.
"Six months ago this week, as New Yorkers were sitting 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 in a statement. "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."
Messages were left Thursday afternoon with the owners of the Spring Valley and Yonkers stations.
Schneiderman's office pursued legal action against the gas stations under New York's Price Gouging Law, which defines gouging as a "gross disparity" between prices immediately before and after a natural disaster or emergency when the disparity "is not attributable to higher costs imposed upon the seller."