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Long Island Gas Station Owner Charged With Gouging Customers

ELMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- An Elmont, Long Island, gas station owner was arrested this weekend, after police allegedly caught him charging higher prices than what appeared on his signs.

A Nassau County police officer on patrol Saturday saw that the USA Gas Station at 1616 Dutch Broadway advertising $3.83 per gallon on the sign overhead, according to Newsday. But at the pump, the price displayed and charged was $4.59 per gallon, CBS 2 reported.

The officer told gas station owner Fouad Elmaria, 74, to correct the price, but Elmaria had not done so when the officer and his supervisor returned several hours later, Newsday reported.

Elmaria, of Rockville Centre, was charged with first-degree defraud and false advertising, according to Newsday. He was released on an appearance ticket and was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday, the publication reported.

Gas station customers have been complaining of price gouging repeatedly in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, as disruptions in the gasoline supply have left drivers parking their cars in lanes of traffic and waiting in line for hours.

Last week, CBS 2 asked viewers about possible gas gouging locations, and viewers responded with several reported examples.

Among them was a Mobil station in Long Island City, Queens, where a gallon of regular unleaded was going for $4.89 a gallon.

"I don't make the prices," the manager at the gas station said, saying the owners were responsible for the steep increase.

The increase in this case was nearly $1 per gallon. Still, people were lining up to pay it.
CBS 2 spoke to the Long Island Gasoline Retailers president Kevin Breyer, who said the cost of getting gas is going up – not only when it comes to waiting for tankers to come in, but also when it comes to staffing gas stations.

Breyer said stations have been hiring more employees to try and meet the demand, and tanker trucks were waiting longer at the terminals for gas, driving up costs that have to be recovered.

But he admitted: "Absolutely, there is gouging going on. Anything above $4.50 a gallon has to be investigated."

Elmaria was one of two people arrested in connection with the gas shortage crisis. In Brooklyn, a 22-year-old man was arrested for trying to cheat and cut in line at a gas station.

Police said that rather than wait in line like everyone else, Milan Nus, 22, attempted to fill up at a reserved lane at the BP gas station in Sheepshead Bay.

Nus told a police officer who was on security duty at the gas station that he was a federal agent and flashed a badge, according to police. But the cop asked a few questions and quickly realized Nus was a fake, 1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria reported.

The plan was to cut the line and get on the one reserved for police officers and first responders, which is usually much shorter than the lines for the public.

Nus was arrested and charged with impersonating a public servant, which is a felony.

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