Bryan Cohen Jul. 23, 2013, 6:24pm

NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced settlements Tuesday with eight businesses that allegedly excessively raised room prices for consumers after Superstorm Sandy.

The eight businesses involved in the settlements include four hotel operators, the Princeton-based Barclay Hospitality Services Inc., doing business as Homewood Suites by Hilton, the Princeton-based ESA P Portfolio, doing business as Extended Stay America Princeton, the Pleasantville-based Infant King Management LLC, doing business as Howard Johnson Inn, and the Cologne-based A Classic Corp., doing business as A-1 Motel. The other businesses involved in the settlements include three gas stations, the Lyndhurst-based S&D LLC, doing business as Exxon, the Newark-based Cuoto & Sons Inc., doing business as Sunoco, and the Paterson-based AT Petroleum LLC, doing business as Lukoil, in addition to a hardware store, the Hardwick-based Berwick International Inc., doing business as Village Hardware.

Under the terms of the settlements, the eight businesses agreed to pay $282,844.72, which includes reimbursement to 185 affected consumers. The business allegedly engaged in price gouging during the state of emergency declared by Governor Chris Christie in late October in response to Superstorm Sandy.

"The immediate aftermath of Superstorm Sandy left many New Jerseyans in a state of chaos and turmoil, which was only made worse when companies illegally gouged them for essential items such as shelter and fuel," Hoffman said. "We are here to protect the most vulnerable. We simply will not allow businesses to victimize vulnerable residents, who already are suffering hardships during a declared state of emergency."

As part of the agreements, the businesses agreed to comply with the state's Consumer Fraud Act going forward. Further Consumer Fraud Act violations could result in enhanced civil penalties. Under the terms of the settlements, the eight businesses made no admission of liability.

Since Superstorm Sandy, the Division of Consumer Affairs assessed a total of $328,844.72 against companies that allegedly engaged in price gouging after the declared state of emergency.

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