heller still a wanted man? or just a fool.
Posted in the McLean Forum
#1 Jan 27, 2013
Heller, facing big fine, ponders next move
By Steve Moore
MONTEREY- Glenn M. Heller, a conscientious gadfly to some people and a contentious blackfly to others, said yesterday that he does not believe he was price gouging at his Beacon Hill gas station in the late 1970s.
On Tuesday, Heller, a part-time resident of Monterey, was ordered by a U.S District Court judge to pay $160,000 in fines for exceeding the price ceilings set by the Department of Energy during the gasoline shortage caused by an Arab oil embargo. The DOE itself ordered him to pay an additional $54,347.98 for overcharging.
Lacks the money
He was charging $1.56.9 a gallon at his Boston station- the highest price in the nation- when the DOE ordered him to drop it to no more than 89.9 cents. He made gas price news again in 1981 when he boosted his price to $2.74.8 per gallon.
Asked if he would pay the fine, Heller paused and said,When I have the money. Pressed about whether he had the money, he said no.
He said that he did not know if he would appeal the finding but that he has learned not to argue with judges and would consider that finding fair and correct.
A story in yesterdays Eagle erred, Heller said in that it described him as a former Monterey resident. He still lives in Monterey summers, he said and in fact was staying here this week. Heller, who at one time acted as a self-appointed watch-dog of area government, said he goes back and forth between Monterey and Chevy Chase, Md. He also has an address in Washington, D.C.
Im like the wind, man, he said.
He declined to elaborate very much on his financial situation, except to note that he was between careers and right now gets some money from good works.
Regarding the era of gasoline shortages and his price gouging, Heller denied he was gouging. By charging more than anyone else during the shortage, his limited supply of gas lasted longer and he was able to stay open 24 hours a day. It was a period when people had to wait in long lines to buy gas and when stations frequently ran out of gas.
People were damn glad the station was open, Heller said,and that there was gas there.
Change of direction
His station was at 358 Cambridge St., at the foot of the Beacon Hill area. He said he went out of business in 1984 because the one-time shortage of gasoline became a glut. His landlord and supplier, Gulf Oil, went to court to try and evict him because he refused to pay an increase in rent, from $1,000 to as much as $1, 800 at the end, he said.
The other major reason he gave up the business, he said, was that the city changed the direction of traffic on Charles Street to protect the residential nature of Beacon Hill, and all his business literally left him.
In the interim, he said, he began an enterprise called Market Watch that consisted of monitoring the stock market through computers. That went under in 1987 with the stock market crash.
Heller said he still believes that there was never a shortage of gasoline and, further, that he was entitled under federal regulations to charge whatever customers would pay.
He said a dealer had gone out of business at the same spot because his prices were not high enough. Thus, he maintained, he was not under the limitation of the dealers prices. Increases are determined as a percentage of prevailing prices, he said. He was, in effect,decontrolled and could charge what the market would bear.
The U.S district attorney saw the situation otherwise and, in 1979, indicted Heller on criminal charges. Though he eventually was found innocent of those charges, a civil complaint was filed in January 1990 in U.S District Court in Boston on the same matter.
On Tuesday, Judge Douglas P. Woodcock ordered Heller to pay $134,689.96 for overcharging customers and $25,000 for violations of the Economic Stabilization Act of 1970 and the Emergency Petroleum Allocation Act of 1973.
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