Californian mother faces jail in Facebook food case


In a bizarre case, a Californian mother-of-six is facing jail for selling food through a Facebook group.
MarizaRuelas, who says she was only trying to make ends meet for her family, is due to appear in court charged with two misdemeanour citations for operating a food facility and engaging in business without a permit.
The 37-year-old is now facing a jail term, given that each of those offences could lead to a maximum of a year in prison.
Prosecutors claim that Ms Ruelas sold an undercover investigator a plate of the seafood dish ceviche for $12 on Facebook last year.
However, Ms Ruelas says she had no idea that what she was doing was illegal.
She said: “It’s just crazy because people have been selling out their trunks and out of parking lots for years. I never knew it would be a problem.”
The trouble started for Ms Ruelas when she joined popular Facebook group 209 Food Spot around two years ago to get help finding a last-minute cake for her daughter’s birthday.
Ms Ruelas had placed an order with a local baker, but when they cancelled at the last minute, she was left looking for a replacement at the eleventh hours.
She joined the 15,000 member social media group on the advice of a friend.
Ms Ruelas quickly became a key member of the group. She used it for sharing recipes, finding out about charity giveaways and it was also a place to sell dishes for less than usual market prices.
When the page founder left around a year ago, she jumped into the breach and began to run the group as an administrator.
She said: “There were times when I didn’t have time to cook. You could go on there and pick something up or have it delivered on the same day. It was just convenient for a lot of people. Everybody loves food. There was that connection with anyone.”
However, that practice was brought to an abrupt end this summer when Ms Ruelas and at least half a dozen other group members were sent letters from the local district attorney, demanding that they appear in court over health code violations.
The group was then closed completely by Ms Ruelas.
While other members accepted a plea deal and were punished with a year on probation, a $235 fine and 40 hours of community service, Ms Ruelas turned down her offer which she said was double the punishment of anyone else.

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Sam Dunis
Sam comes from Edinburgh and grew up with his mother and step-dad. His father left the country when he learnt he was going to be a father. Sam never had the opportunity to see him and still wonders what he looks like. School wasn’t his thing, he would rather spend sometime with his friends, play rugby and chat girls up. Sam used to help his step dad, a plumber, during summertime. After doing it for several years, he realized he could work with his father and hopefully take over the family business when his step-father would retire. Sam spends most of his time off taking care of his mother, training with the local rugby team. Sam doesn’t have any girlfriend at the moment. He is therefore going out every weekends.