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Released by: District Attorney
For Immediate Release

California Attorney General, Sonoma County District Attorney, and Napa County District Attorney Cooperating to Investigate Price Gouging

Santa Rosa, CA  –  October 20, 2017 at 5:03 PM  –  Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch today announced that she is working jointly with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and Napa County District Attorney Allison Haley, to insure that the citizens of Sonoma and Napa County who have suffered from the devastating North Bay Wildfire are not further victimized by price gouging in violation of Penal Code section 396, the State’s anti-price gouging law.

District Attorney Jill Ravitch stated: “All complaints of price gouging will be the investigated by our offices working together, and each agency is devoting additional resources to protect our citizens during this critical time.”

Attorney General Xavier Becerra stated: “As wildfires rage across California, it's vital to broadcast to all that our State’s price gouging law protects people impacted by an emergency from illegal price gouging on housing, gas, food, and other essential supplies. This is not a matter that I take lightly — the blazes have claimed numerous lives and have displaced thousands throughout our communities. As the state’s top law enforcement officer, I am prepared to prosecute those unscrupulous individuals who try to turn a profit at the expense of our neighbors and friends. I encourage anyone who is aware of price gouging to immediately file a complaint through my office’s website, www.oag.ca.gov, or call (800) 952-5225.”

California law generally prohibits charging a price that exceeds, by more than 10 percent, the price of an item before a state or local declaration of emergency. This law applies to those who sell food, emergency supplies, medical supplies, building materials and gasoline. The law also applies to repair or reconstruction services, emergency cleanup services, transportation, freight and storage services, hotel accommodations and rental housing. Limited exceptions to this prohibition exist if, for example, the price of labor, goods, or materials has increased for the seller. On October 18, 2017, Governor Brown extended the State of Emergency declared for Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Nevada Orange, and Solano Counties until April 18, 2018, so the price gouging prohibitions will continue throughout this time period. 

Violators of the price gouging statute are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in a one-year imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Violators are also subject to civil enforcement actions including civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, injunctive relief and mandatory restitution. 

Complaints of price gouging can be made as follows:

California Attorney General: Via website at www.oag.ca.gov or by calling (800) 952-5225.

Sonoma County District Attorney's Office: Via website at http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/District-Attorney/, or by calling (707) 565-2311.

Napa County District Attorney’s Office: Via website at http://www.countyofnapa.org/da/consumerdivision or by calling (707) 253-4059.

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Contact Information

Joe Langenbahn
Media Coordinator
Office of the District Attorney
County of Sonoma
Contact us by Phone
Address
600 Administration Drive
Room 212 J
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
38.466524, -122.726273
 

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