Mariza Reulas was part of a food group on Facebook that shared recipes and traded cooked meals back and forth between members. However after the Stockton police sent an undercover officer to investigate the group and make illegal buys of their illicit dinners; she was arrested and charged with selling an illegal substance. However the substance wasn’t pills, powders or plants. It was a bowl of her homemade ceviche.
Mariza, along with about a dozen others, were cited for two misdemeanors. One for operating a food facility and another for engaging in business without a permit.
But the 209 food spot was not a business. It was a community group that organized potlucks and occasionally recovered some preparation expenses.
Mariza is facing a year in jail for her voluntary actions and if she is caged her children will be without both parents – a thought that is terrifying to Mrs. Reulas.
The district attorney is well aware of the arbitrary nature of the sting but claims that her mindless and violent enforcement of someone else’s will is foundation enough to lock up a hard-working mother.
“I don’t write the laws, I enforce them. And the legislature has felt that this is a crime,” said San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Kelly McDaniel.
Is District Attorney Kelly McDaniel really worried about the quality of the food being cooked or is she protecting the profits of the established restaurants in the area?
“Selling any food not subject to health department inspection puts whoever eats it in real danger, not to mention it undercuts business owners who do get permits to make their food,” said McDaniel.
Mariza Reulas is the only chef heading to trial as the rest of those targeted in the sting accepted pleas from the DA.
While Reulas may have broken the law it is important to remember that she did not commit a crime. A crime requires a victim and Mariza only acted voluntarily with members of the group and as such it would be impossible to present a physical victim in court.
With at that in mind it appears that Stockton, CA is trying to coerce Mariza Reulas into participating in their revenue generation racket, but when she refused to accept their plea deal and pay the fine, she became subject to much harsher treatment.
With 49 murders a year, 190+ rapes, 2,731 assaults and over 1,000 property crimes; one could argue that chasing down single mothers cooking extra meals in their spare time is a waste of law enforcement resources. But an institution based on social order and revenue generation isn’t worries about targeting the bad guy, they are much too pre occupied harassing anyone who makes an easy mark.