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Gas stations cited for price gouging following Superstorm Sandy

Bronx Times

At least two Bronx gas stations have been accused of turning into Superstorm Sandy cash guzzlers.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman accused them of taking advantage of nervous gas-starved customers by jacking up their prices after Sandy ravaged the borough.

Several gas stations lost power and area refineries were hard hit, with long lines at stations still able to pump gas.

Schneiderman singled out a Getty/Lukoil station at 600 Pelham Parkway South and a Mobil on East Gun Hill Rd. for preying on drivers.

“We are taking action to send a message that ripping off New Yorkers is against the law,” said Schneiderman.

Both stations, if found guilty, face heavy fines and civil suits.

In the case of the Mobil in Olinville, the sticker price for a gallon of gas was a whopping $5.39, according to one complaint made to Schneiderman’s office. It was unclear if that was for premium or much less expensive regular gas.

The Olinville station strategically rests by the heavily travelled Bronx River Parkway.

Reaction about the station’s alleged gouging was mixed.

“It’s dishonest and immoral,” said Forte Clyde. “But to me it didn’t matter.”

At the height of the gas crisis, Clyde admitted he was willing to pay anything for a full tank.

Placido Polanco, a taxi driver who filled up $55 in gas on Monday, Nov. 19, believes Mobil did exploite driver’s desperation in finding gas.

Meanwhile, the Lukoil station is accused of ripping off drivers to the tune of $4.89 for a gallon of gas.

Gas prices at the station, along the bustling corner of Pelham Parkway South and Bronx Park East, were back to pre-Sandy levels at $4.49 for a premium gallon of gas, but the station was empty of customers on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

In both cases, Schneiderman said the gas stations skyrocketed their prices overnight, considered illegal in New York.

The commodity became much of a rarity once Sandy’s fury knocked out gas to a major portion of the borough’s stations, disrupting the flow of gas deliveries.

The state’s price gouging laws take effect if officials notice an “abnormal disruption of the market,” in this case gas. They now will go through the process of reviewing the before-and-after prices of the two stations.

Gas owners will be forced to open its books to investigators who will then check whether the buying price of their fuel grossly exceeded the selling price.

Owners have the right to make their case on why their prices had increased substantially, though a Schneiderman spokesperson believes the stations intentionally gouged customers.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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