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Queens Chronicle

Gas stations settle with state for gouging

One LIC spot named in lawsuit

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Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:42 am, Thu May 16, 2013.

The state has reached a settlement with one Long Island City gas station for hiking up prices in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

According to a report released by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the E-Z Station Mobil at 40-40 Crescent St. raised its prices to $4.89 a gallon following the superstorm.

The station’s management refused to comment.

Schneiderman reached settlements with one other station in the city, 20 on Long Island, one in Rockland County and two in Westchester County, totaling $167,850.

“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.”

The attorney general received hundreds of complaints of stations changing prices at the pump — not only overnight, but several times a day.

New York State’s Price Gouging Law prohibits merchants from taking unfair advantage of consumers by selling goods or services for an “unconscionably excessive price” during natural disasters.

The law covers New York State vendors, retailers and suppliers and specifically states that a price may be considered excessive if there is a “gross disparity” between the prices charged immediately before and after the emergency and if the disparity is not attributable to higher costs imposed upon the seller.

In addition to the settlements Schneiderman named four gas stations — only one Brooklyn station is within city limits — in a new lawsuit on May 2. Investigations are pending against dozens of other gas stations.

— Josey Bartlett

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