Law enforcers check gas stations for price gouging - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Law enforcers check gas stations for price gouging

September 1, 2005

Albany-- It's a major crack down on retailers who unfairly raise prices. Dougherty County Sheriff Jamil Saba sent Investigators to gas stations to check for price gouging Thursday afternoon.

"People need gas to go to work," Saba said. "They need gas for their family. There is no sense in anybody taking advantage of them. "

The Investigators confiscated paperwork on gas sales last week, and today. And if those businesses are now making a higher percentage profit per gallon, the owners will be charged with price gouging.

Dougherty County Sheriff's Office Investigator Craig Dodd checks a gas station's prices. "They got quantity here, but they bill our home office, which is in Valdosta, " said store manager Joel Cawthon.

The Shell station on Old Dawson Road near Westover Road did not have their gas prices posted. They are selling regular unleaded for $3.48. Across the street his competition is $3.07.

"Who can I contact at your home office?" Dodd asks Cawthon.

The prices and profit margins from last week and today are confiscated, and will be checked. If the station is taking advantage of the hurricane emergency for a higher profit, they will be charged with price gouging.

Lt. Craig Dodd said "The per gallon profit margin can not be higher now than it was prior to the emergency taking effect." Cawthon is very cooperative, confident their gas prices are as low as possible. "If there was something we could do to get it down, we'd be the first ones to do it."

But Sheriff Saba is now taking evidence to make sure Dougherty County gas stations are charging a fair price, and he is ready to press charges if they are using the Hurricane to make extra money.

"If we feel like it is gouging, we are going to fill out our report, give it to the State Consumer Affairs and the D. A.'s office, and then go from there for prosecution," Saba said.

If found guilty of price gouging, the stores could have that profit confiscated and then additional fines added on.

If you think a Dougherty County store is price gouging on gasoline sales, contact the Sheriff's Office.

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