Bryan Cohen Nov. 1, 2013, 7:45pm

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) -- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Thursday a court order against AGIP Gas LLC for allegedly gouging consumers illegally by increasing its pump prices in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

AGIP Gas LLC, doing business as USA Petroleum, allegedly charged consumers unconscionably excessive retail prices for gasoline following Hurricane Sandy, in violation of the state's price gouging law.

New York State's Price Gouging Law prohibits merchants from taking advantage of consumers by selling services or goods at unconscionably excessive prices during natural disasters.

The difference of USA Petroleum's pre-tax fuel costs and its retail price for the same grade of gasoline allegedly increased from $1.07 per gallon before the storm to $1.45 per gallon after the storm, an increase of 35 percent.

Suffolk County Judge Jerry Garguilo found a gross disparity in USA Petroleum's retail prices for gasoline before and after the storm hit the state. He assessed a $10,000 penalty against the company and required the payment of $2,000 in attorney costs.

"USA Petroleum took advantage of the devastation caused by Sandy to overcharge New York consumers and their own neighbors, people who were reeling from the effects of this terrible storm," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Judge Garguilo's decision holds the owners of this station accountable for their illegal price gouging and will serve as a warning to those who would violate this law."

Before Hurricane Sandy hit, Schneiderman warned state vendors against price gouging.

Despite the warning, Schneiderman's office received hundreds of price gouging complaints.

Since the storm, his office has recovered $301,118 in penalties and costs from gas stations in New York City, the Hudson Valley and Long Island that gouged their customers.

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