An association that represents hundreds of New Jersey gas station owners yesterday called for state Attorney General Anne Milgram to resign for issuing a June report it said "offered up the heads of innocent gasoline retailers" who were portrayed as having cheated customers.
Sal Risalvato, executive director of the New Jersey Gasoline-Convenience-Automotive Association, said Milgram was "grandstanding" when she released the list during a period of rapidly rising fuel prices.
His organization took Superior Court action to obtain the documents used to compile the report and found that most citations were for minor infractions, Risalvato said in a statement.
"It takes years to earn a good reputation in any business," he said.
"Yet, thanks to the irresponsible manner in which these findings were packaged and presented, the reputations of honest retailers have been tarnished and destroyed in moments."
In the report, Milgrim said nearly a quarter of 1,023 stations visited by state officials were cited, with 350 violations. Weights and measures inspectors discovered pricing discrepancies, inaccurate octane ratings and equipment that was improperly calibrated. Some retailers were cited for missing paperwork or improper signage.
Of the 240 stations that originally received tickets, 27 were in Camden County, four were in Gloucester County, and 53 were in Burlington County.
The Attorney General's Division of Consumer Affairs issued a Nov. 21 news release listing stations "that should not have been cited for violations," David Szuchman, director of the agency in the Attorney General's Office, said in a statement yesterday.
"There were 10 instances out of more than 350 violations which were in error; more than 1,000 stations were surveyed last spring," Szuchman said in the statement.
Risalvato, whose organization has 1,500 members, said last month's clarification was "an attempt to placate critics."
"There was no press conference or live TV report - just a release that was barely noticed by the press and public," he said.
Milgram "should abdicate her office and apologize to those she was so deeply wounded," Risalvato said.
In his statement, Szuchman said the "Division of Affairs, through its Office of Weights and Measures, has an obligation to protect New Jersey consumers. . . .
"We have and will continue to inspect service stations to ensure motorists are getting what they pay for."