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State launches gas price gouging probe

Remember all those gasoline price gouging complaints during Hurricane Ike last summer? Attorney General Bill McCollum and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said Tuesday their offices have launched a joint probe of Morgan Stanley Group and a subsidiary, TransMontaigne, that supplies wholesale gas to McKenzie Oil Company and other distributors, mainly in North Florida.

Bronson said the firm drove up its price by $1.50 a gallon at one point. "They created their own problem. We just want them to answer some questions to our satisfaction," Bronson said.

McCollum said TransMontaigne has been cooperative and that the state plans a face-to-face meeting soon with company officials. He said it was too soon to tell whether any motorists would receive refunds. State officials reported separate consumer complaints against TransMontaigne from MidState Energy near Tampa and from the owner of Tom Thumb convenience stores in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area.

A TransMontaigne spokesman in Denver did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

-- Steve Bousquet