NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey has filed the first lawsuits for alleged price gouging stemming from Superstorm Sandy.

Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa on Friday announced the state is suing seven gas stations and a hotel in northern New Jersey.

WCBS 880’s John Metaxes reports

The gas stations are accused of raising pump prices anywhere from 17 to 59 percent higher during the state of emergency related to the storm. The hotel is accused of raising room rates by 32 percent.

“During an emergency, you can’t charge more than 10 percent of the price you were charging immediately before the emergency,”  Chiesa said. “That’s designed to deter people from taking advantage of a disaster.”

Chiesa said the most egregious price gouging was at a Lukeoil station on McBride Avenue in Patterson.

“They allegedly raised the price of regular fuel from $3.45 per gallon before the storm to $5.50 per gallon, which is the highest price mentioned in the seven complaints against the gas stations,” he said. “That’s an increase of $2.05 a gallon or 59 percent.”

Violators can be fined up to $10,000 for a first offense and up to $20,000 for a second offense.

The state’s Consumer Affairs Division has received nearly 2,000 complaints about alleged storm-related price gouging. Chiesa said about 83 percent of the complaints involve gas stations.

Chiesa said price complaints may subside, but other storm-related scams may increase.

The businesses named in the suit are:

  • Kistruga, Inc., d/b/a Lukoil station, at 253 McBride Avenue, Paterson
  • C.S. George & Sons, Inc., d/b/a George’s Gulf station, at 387 Crooks Avenue, Clifton
  • Alen Service Corp., d/b/a Lukoil station, at 335 McCarter Highway, Newark
  • Vinny Fuel Corporation, d/b/a Delta Gas station, at 141 Bloomfield Avenue, Bloomfield
  • Perth Amboy NJPO, LLC, d/b/a BP station at 163 Fayette Street, Perth Amboy
  • S&D LLC,d/b/a Exxon station, at 555 Riverside Avenue, Lyndhurst
  • Couto & Sons, Inc. d/b/a Sunoco station, at 69 Wilson Avenue, Newark
  • Ratan Hospitality Group, LLC, d/b/a Howard Johnson Express at 625 Route 46 East, Parsippany

If you suspect a business is price gouging, call the Division of Consumer Affairs at 800-242-5846.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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