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Station owner pleads no contest to gas mislabeling

HURON (AP) -- A Wolsey travel center has pleaded no contest to selling 85-octane fuel mislabeled with a higher rating in a case spurred by a state investigation.

Kent Shelton, an attorney representing 281 Travel Center owner Robert McGillvrey, told a judge Wednesday that the company contracted with Rapid City-based M.G. Oil Co. for delivery of 87 octane fuel. Shelton said the company instead sent lower-grade 85 octane fuel that was placed in tanks attached to pumps labeled 87 octane, the media reported Thursday.

As a part of the plea agreement, Beadle County prosecutors stipulated that the 85 octane fuel was delivered without McGillvrey's knowledge. The center was fined $500 and given 15 hours of community service.

In November, M.G. Oil pleaded no contest to selling 85-octane fuel at its five Corner Pantry stations in Huron. The company was fined $2,500 and given 100 hours of community service.

The charges were the first in South Dakota as the result of a state investigation that found 85-octane gasoline was being sold as 87-octane fuel in eight counties.

During the investigation earlier this year, the South Dakota Public Safety Department also discovered that state law technically prohibits the sale of 85-octane gasoline. Most car manufacturers recommend that gasoline used in their vehicles have a minimum octane rating of 87.

The department, with Gov. Dennis Daugaard's backing, passed an emergency rule making 85-octane gasoline legal anywhere in South Dakota until Oct. 7 to avoid a possible fuel shortage in western South Dakota, where the low-octane fuel meant for higher elevations has been sold for decades.

A new rule allows the sale of 85-octane gasoline only in nine western counties and only until June 30. That means the 2013 South Dakota Legislature must decide whether to permit the sale of the lower octane fuel after June.