Northern California Indian grocer charged with price gouging during state of emergency

indica News Bureau-

The owner of an Indian grocery store and his shop have been charged   with price gouging, the first ever such legal action  in Alameda County, according to authorities.

Rajvinder Singh, the owner of Apna Bazar in Pleasanton, California, and his store face a nine-count misdemeanor complaint that alleges the owner and his establishment illegally increased food prices shortly after California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency, according to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office and the state Attorney General’s Office.

“California law prohibits charging a price that exceeds, by more than 10 percent, the price of an item before a state or local declaration of emergency,” authorities said in a press release Thursday. “On March 4, 2020, the Governor declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which put the price gouging law into effect.”

The complaint alleges that following the emergency declaration, Singh and Apna Bazar in Pleasanton illegally raised the prices of essential food items over the 10% threshold, according to Attorney General and the District Attorney. Other Apna Bazar locations in the Bay Area are not part in the investigation.

Authorities responded to customers and shoppers numerous complaints on social media and directly to the DA’s office, according to the press release.

An investigation into shoppers’ complaints on social media and in emails and calls to the authorities discovered through customer receipts and multiple interviews that some prices on several food items were increased in excess of 300% more than what gad  previously been charged, authorities said.

Singh and Apna Bazar were featured on indica in November 2018, “The grocery store to visit at 3 am,” when Singh opened his 24-hour Pleasanton store, his 14th location.

Singh is scheduled to appear on the charges on July 9, 2020.

Nancy O'Malley
Nancy O’Malley

“The law prevents businesses from profiteering when we are in a state of emergency. All businesses throughout Alameda County must be on notice that we will not sit idly by and allow consumers to fall prey to price gouging. My office will ensure that businesses adhere to the law and do not exploit consumers,” Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley said in the release.

The state Attorney General echoed the District Attorney’s comments.

“We take price gouging seriously and are committed to going after those who break the law during the public health emergency,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “The Department of Justice relies on all Californians to be vigilant in detecting price gouging. If you see something suspicious, or if you are a victim of price gouging, file a complaint. The more you report, the more we can stop this abuse.”


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