iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
An Indian-origin grocery store in Pleasanton, California, has been accused of price gouging, charging up to 400% more during the pandemic, has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges announced Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley and the California Department of Justice (CADOJ), April 19.
The owner of Apna Bazar, Rajvinder Singh, has pleaded guilty to two counts of price gouging for violating the governor’s state emergency declaration related to the COVID pandemic.
Singh entered the plea Wednesday, April 21, in Alameda County Superior Court. The plea agreement stipulates that Singh will donate $20,000 to the Alameda County Community Food Bank.
He was charged May 7 with nine counts of price gouging by illegally raising the prices of essential food items far beyond the cap imposed by the declaration, said District Attorney Nancy O’Malley. The plea agreement dismissed seven of those counts.
California law prohibits businesses from raising the prices of various critical goods by more than 10 percent after an emergency is declared.
In April 2020, during the initial weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, CADOJ and the Alameda County DA’s office received numerous complaints that the Apna Bazar grocery store in Pleasanton, California was
engaged in price gouging on several food items.
However, after a joint investigation into purchase receipts provided by the complainants found the store had raised prices for items such as instant noodles, tea, yellow onions and red yams between 60 percent and 400 percent after the state declared an emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 4, according to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.
“The law prevents businesses from profiteering during a declared state of emergency. This case marks the first successful prosecution in Alameda County for price gouging in the time of the pandemic,” said District Attorney Nancy O’Malley. “My office is committed to ensuring that businesses adhere to the law and do not exploit consumers.”
“This year has been difficult for all of us, and many neighbors have needed a helping hand to ensure that their family members were nourished and remained healthy,” said Suzan Bateson, Executive Director of Alameda County Community Food Bank. “This donation will help us provide thousands of meals to children, adults, and seniors.”