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Biggest fines for gouging after Sandy imposed on NY fuel sellers

A man stands exhausted while waiting for over five hours to receive fuel from a gas station in Queens, a borough in New York which was left
A man stands exhausted while waiting for over five hours to receive fuel from a gas station in Queens, a borough in New York which was left

By Noreen O'Donnell

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The biggest fines to date for gas price gouging after Superstorm Sandy have been imposed on a gasoline wholesaler in New Paltz, New York and a gas station on New York's Long Island, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Wednesday.

Wholesaler, CPD Energy Corp., has been ordered to pay a $50,000 penalty for charging excessive prices at six gas stations that it owns in Westchester, Putnam and Ulster counties, north of New York City, Schneiderman said in a statement.

On Long Island, Mena Inter Inc., which runs a USA Petroleum gas station in Farmingdale was ordered to pay a $23,733 penalty.

New York'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.

"As thousands of New Yorkers sat in line for hours waiting to buy gasoline during the state of emergency created by Hurricane Sandy, some crooked station owners increased their retail prices by excessive and illegal amounts," Schneiderman said.

The storm hit the New York area on October 29, 2012, killing more than 200 people and causing $50 billion in damage along the East Coast. In the days afterward, New York saw some of the largest jumps in gas prices in state history, Schneiderman's office said.

After the storm, CPD incurred additional costs of about 16 cents per gallon to transport gasoline to the six stations. However, it increased prices by as much as 70 cents per gallon, the Attorney General's Office said.

So far, total penalties and costs paid by 42 gas stations found to have engaged in price gouging have amounted to $287,618, according to the Attorney General's Office.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Andrew Hay)

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