CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said Thursday his office has received more than 150 price-gouging complaints during the water crisis, virtually all dealing with retailers overcharging for bottled water.
"We've been looking into an enormous number of complaints about price gouging," Morrisey told the Senate Finance Committee.
State law prohibits businesses from increasing prices for consumer goods and services by more than 10 percent during declared states of emergency.
Morrisey said after the meeting that one of the complaints being investigated alleges that a retailer was selling five-gallon jugs of water for $50.
He said virtually all of the complaints came in from Thursday evening to Saturday morning -- about the time widespread emergency distribution of free bottled water in the nine affected counties geared up.
Morrisey said, to date, the office has received 74 documented allegations of overcharging. "We're in the process of following up with letters and subpoenas," he said.
Violation of the price-gouging prohibition is a misdemeanor, punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail.
Morrisey also said his office is beginning an investigation of the company that caused the chemical leak, Freedom Industries, in coordination with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state Department of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. Attorney's office.