PLEASANTON (BCN) — The owner of Apna Bazar grocery store in Pleasanton pleaded guilty to two counts of price gouging for violating the governor’s state emergency declaration related to the COVID pandemic.

Rajvinder Singh entered the plea Wednesday in Alameda County Superior Court. The plea agreement stipulates that Singh will donate $20,000 to the Alameda County Community Food Bank.

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Singh was charged May 7 with nine counts of price gouging by illegally raising the prices of essential food items far beyond the cap imposed by the declaration, said District Attorney Nancy O’Malley. The plea agreement dismissed seven of those counts.

A joint investigation by O’Malley’s office and the state Department of Justice found an increase in sales price ranging between 60 percent and 400 percent for several grocery items sold before and after the governor’s March 4 declaration.

“The law prevents businesses from profiteering during a declared state of emergency,” O’Malley said. “This case marks the first successful prosecution in Alameda County for price gouging in the time of the pandemic.”

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The donation to the food bank will help local residents struggling during the pandemic.

“This donation will help us provide thousands of meals to children, adults, and seniors,” said Suzan Bateson, executive director of the food bank.

 

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