A state task force has been formed to look into allegations of gasoline price-fixing in northern Utah, nearly a year and a half after the Utah attorney general's office acknowledged it was investigating the claims.
Roy Worthen, a state investigator who is heading up the task force, said he continues to receive complaints and hear rumors, "but the proof in the pudding just isn't there yet. People who have information don't want to get involved.Worthen said the task force should be ready to begin digging after the new year. Identities of the task force's members will remain confidential, he said.
"There's no way we can do an investigation if the world knows what we're doing," he said.
Allegations of collusion among retail gas outlets to set prices in Utah have persisted for years. Despite working off and on chasing rumors and complaints for years, the attorney general's office hasn't gotten the proof it needs to take the issue to court, Worthen said.
"Every time the prices are down like they are now and then they take a 10-cent jump, our phones ring off the hook," he said.
That was the case late last year when prices suddenly jumped, sparking 300 complaints within a month's time.
Associate Deputy Attorney General Paul Warner said in September 1987 that the Ogden area was one focus of his office's investigation.
At that time, gas prices in the Ogden area were 4 cents to 8 cents higher than those in the Salt Lake Valley and had gone as much as 20 cents higher during the previous year. Prices in the two areas are virtually identical right now.
Warner this week referred inquiries into the status of the investigation to Worthen.
Worthen said the industry has been helpful in his investigation. "They want to clean it up, too," he said.