California woman faces jail time for selling homemade ceviche online
Mariza Ruelas is facing jail time after an undercover investigation caught her selling her home-cooked food without a permit.
STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA — Police are going after a California woman’s home cooking, not because they want to eat it.
KTXL-TV reports that Stockton resident Mariza Ruelas joined a local Facebook food group called 209 Food Spot, where members organized potlucks, shared and sometimes sold food.
In December 2015, the single mother of six was contacted by someone wanting to buy her signature ceviche. That someone turned out to be an undercover investigator, and Ruelas was caught in the sting operation along with about a dozen other 209 members who did not have permits to sell their food.
They were cited for two misdemeanors. Others accepted a plea deal that included 1 year probation, 40 hours of community service, pleading guilty to one of two misdemeanors, and paying a $235 fine.
But Ruelas claims she was offered a heavier punishment which called for 3 years probation, 80 hours of community service, pleading guilty to a misdemeanor, and the $235 fine. She subsequently declined what she claims to be an unfair deal, and is now awaiting trial. If found guilty, Ruelas could face up to a year in jail.
Online opinion has largely been in Ruelas’ favor. She wasn’t operating a full-scale business, and probably only earned a couple of bucks from occasional sales.
San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Kelly McDaniel claims the Facebook group had been sent a warning before the sting operation, though Ruelas denies any such warning had been made. VIA KTXL-TV
The 209 in 209 Food Spot refers to the area code for Stockton. FACEBOOK / MARIZA RUELAS
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