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    Hess Settles Price-Gouging Suit

    Supplier pays out $372,391, admits no wrongdoing.

    TRENTON, N.J. -- Amerada Hess has settled charges that it gouged motorists in New Jersey with higher gas prices after Hurricane Katrina by agreeing to pay $372,391 to reimburse state and local governments for legal costs, acting Gov. Richard J. Codey's office said, according to the Associated Press.

    Some of the money will go to an energy and motoring assistance program for the poor, the office said in the report.

    New York-based Hess, which acknowledged no wrongdoing, agreed to follow state law on pricing, reported AP.

    The state in September charged that Hess, Motiva Shell and Sunoco artificially inflated prices and increased prices more than the once every 24 hours, the state limit. Independent operators selling Hess, Shell, Sunoco and Citgo brands were also sued.

    Cases against the others are pending, AP reported.

    State authorities began investigating after consumers began to complain about steep and sudden rises in gas prices just before Labor Day weekend. New Jersey gas prices hit their highest-ever levels on Labor Day at an average of $3.16 per gallon of regular. The average is now $2.07, according to the report.

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