Five local gas stations are among the first to be fined by the state of Florida for price gouging. The stations are accused of hiking the price of gas by as much as 37 cents a gallon in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
This Petro station on Mahan Drive is accused of hiking its gas prices by nearly 37 cents in the days after Katrina. It's one of seven in the state of Florida now facing fines for price gouging, and most of the stations on that list are in and around Tallahassee.
Charles Bronson, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, says, "The reason why there were so many from this area is because Tallahassee was the stopover point for people leaving northwest Florida to refuel."
These are the stations in our area cited for price gouging:
Petro, 2616 Crawfordville Highway, up 37.1 cents per gallon
Petro, 3626 Mahan Drive, up 36.9 cents per gallon
Petro, 1500 Bannerman Road, up 34.9 cents per gallon
Petro, 2752 West Pensacola Street, up 17.2 cents per gallon
Stop & Save, 5712 West Tennessee Street, up 17.2 cents per gallon.
They're accused of hiking gas prices between 17 and 37 cents a gallon. Notice all but one are Petro stations.
Andrew Byrne, Petrosouth Attorney, says, "My company prices its product in total good faith."
An attorney for Petro claims the hurricanes have ravaged pricing models and Petro plans to contest the charges and fines.
Andrew Byrne adds, "When we buy our product from wholesalers and they raise it up 30, 40 cents a day, we have to respond. That's what happened."
The stations have 15 days to either pay their fines of up to $5,000 or be sued by the state, and Commissioner Bronson says this is only the tip of the iceberg. They are still investigating another 190 cases.
A spokesman for Stop and Save on West Tennessee also denies the allegations and plans to fight the fines. Two other Tallahassee gas stations have already been sued for price gouging by the Florida attorney general.
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