Gas Pump Mogul Gets Life Term
Mar. 10, 1999
NEW YORK (AP) _ An immigrant who made a fortune with a chain of gas stations was sentenced to life in prison for ordering the killings of two men who knew too much about his mob-style business operations.
A federal jury voted Tuesday to spare Gurmeet Singh Dhinsa the death penalty but he will not be eligible for parole.
Dhinsa, 36, was convicted by the same jury last week on multiple racketeering charges, including rigging gas pumps to cheat customers, evading taxes and using deadly force to silence fellow Sikhs who threatened to expose him.
Gerald Shargel, Dhinsa's attorney, said he will appeal the sentence.
Until his arrest in 1997, Dhinsa appeared to be living an American success story.
He arrived in the United States in 1982 from India's impoverished Punjab region and took a job pumping gas. He saved enough money to lease that station, and then he began opening others.
Eventually, his City Gas chain employed 300 people at 51 stations in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Annual revenue topped $60 million.
But the city repeatedly cited Dhinsa for overcharging customers. In 1990, he was arrested in the kidnap-torture of one of his attendants. He served 90 days in jail on lesser charges.
In 1995, another City Gas employee vanished. When the employee's brother confronted Dhinsa, the businessman allegedly paid a criminal to kill the brother.
Prosecutors said Dhinsa struck again in 1997, ordering the killing of a cab driver who was cooperating in an FBI investigation of City Gas.