Station owner accused of price gouging

Published 8:15 pm Friday, August 31, 2012

ROXIE – A Franklin County gas station owner was released on bond Thursday after being arrested the day before on charges of price gouging during a state of emergency due to Hurricane Isaac, said Sheriff James Newman.

     Kuldip Singh, 51, of Natchez, was arrested at his business, Roxie Truck Stop, around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday by representatives of the state Attorney General’s office. Newman said Singh was freed Thursday on a $2,000 cash bond and faces an initial court appearance next Thursday.

     “We had gotten some complaints and the AG got some complaints,” Newman said Friday.

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     According to a release from the AG’s office, Singh is accused of charging over his usual profit margin at the truck stop. Newman said the charge is a misdemeanor, but could be upgraded pending the attorney general’s investigation.

     Following Gov. Phil Bryant’s declaration, Singh is alleged to have raised the price of a gallon of gas from $3.59 to $3.99 over a 48-hour period, the sheriff said.

     “That’s under investigation,” he added.

     Newman mentioned the limited number of gas stations in the area around Highway 33 and Highway 84 where the Roxie Truck Stop is located.

     “It puts people in a bind,” he said.

     In his office’s release, Attorney General Jim Hood continued to warn that merchants cannot increase their average profit margin on products once the governor issued a disaster declaration with a price gouging prohibition until the order is rescinded.

      “Mississippi has been through enough emergency situations that businesses should know better by now,” Hood said. “We have investigators out in the impacted areas and we will make more arrests if necessary.”