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Norcross gas station fined for price gouging

LAWRENCEVILLE - A Norcross convenience store is among 15 gas stations that struck deals with the state over claims they price gouged customers in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Chevron Food Shop at 5694 Buford Highway must pay a $2,000 fine and reimburse customers who paid too much for gas between Aug. 31 and Oct. 4, the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs announced Tuesday.

Other Gwinnett County convenience stores could be fined in coming weeks as consumer affairs continues investigating more than 100 potential cases of price gouging statewide, said office spokesman Bill Cloud.

Cloud said he could not disclose the location or locations because the investigations are ongoing.

"Odds are we have some more coming out of Gwinnett because it's so big," Cloud said.

The 15 settlements filed Tuesday in Fulton County Superior Court mostly involve metro Atlanta gas stations, which paid fines ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 based on the severity of their violations.

The largest fine was paid by a gas stop in Adel in south Georgia.

Consumer affairs began investigating price gouging after Gov. Sonny Perdue signed an executive order on Aug. 31 to control spiraling gas costs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

"I refuse to stand by and watch while Georgia citizens are being exploited," Perdue said in a statement released Tuesday by his office.

"Gasoline price gouging will not be tolerated, and we will continue to track down businesses who took advantage of Georgians during the hurricane crisis."

When Perdue declared a state of emergency, state laws against price gouging kicked in, and gas stations could only raise their fuel prices to offset their increased costs, and not to up their profits.

Records kept at Chevron Food Shop showed the convenience store raised its prices above the permitted level, Cloud said.

The establishment must post a notice and reimburse customers whose receipts show they paid more than the legal price, Cloud said.

The Chevron is owned by Iquar Enterprises, according to Consumer Affairs. Cloud said the agency did not have paperwork showing who are the principal owners behind Iquar.

Information on the severity of price gouging, including how much the Norcross station was charging for gas, was also unavailable.

Efforts to contact the gas station were unsuccessful.

The state received more than 3,300 complaints of price gouging from the public after fuel supplies were disrupted by Hurricane Katrina and motorists flooded gas stations.