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AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is suing Petroleum Wholesale L.P. and related defendants for allegedly falsifying octane levels, defrauding customers and violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Petroleum Wholesale's convenience store chain, Sunmart Travel Centers & Convenience Stores, operates its fuel business under many banners including Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Texaco and Conoco. According to the lawsuit, the company diluted medium- and premium-grade fuel with regular unleaded gasoline at 143 stations from 2005 to 2008.
Abbott is seeking up to $20,000 per violation under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. It is not yet known how many penalties will be sought against Petroleum Wholesale, Abbott's spokeswoman, Lauri Saathoff, told The Associated Press. However, the lawsuit states that fuel was diluted more than 1,000 times during the four-year period, with most instances occurring in or near Houston.
The state also claims the defendants sold conventional fuel instead of reformulated fuel intended to reduce carbon monoxide emissions, as required by the federal Clean Air Act for areas such as Houston.