This Mom Could Spend A Year In Jail Over Homemade Ceviche

credit: pburnham / Flickr

This is Mariza Ruelas. She’s a mother from Stockton, California.

Credit: Mariza Ruelas / Facebook
CREDIT: Credit: Mariza Ruelas / Facebook

Ruelas loves to cook. She was a member of a Facebook group called “209 Food Spot,” a space where she says locals — the “209” is the area code for Stockton — shared and traded recipes.

Last year, Ruelas shared a recipe for ceviche with the group. Ruelas was then contacted by someone in the group asking to buy ceviche from her.

Credit: KTXL / Fox 40
CREDIT: Credit: KTXL / Fox 40

After Ruelas agreed to sell her ceviche, she learned the buyer was actually an undercover investigator for San Joaquin County in California.

Credit: HBO
CREDIT: Credit: HBO

Ruelas, along with several other “209 Food Spot” group members, were then charged with operating a food facility and a business without proper permits in San Joaquin County.

Credit: KTXL / Fox 40
CREDIT: Credit: KTXL / Fox 40

Ruelas, who refused to accept a plea deal, now faces up to a year in prison if convicted. She took to Facebook to explain why she refused to plead guilty.

“The offer they made to me was 3yrs probation, 80 hrs community service, plea guilty to 1 of the 2 misdemeanors and a $235 fine. Now the reason I denied the offer besides the obvious of not wanting to ruin my record with a misdemeanor was because everyone else was offered 1 yr probation, 40hrs community service, plea guilty to 1 of the 2 misdemeanors and a $235 fine. Why did the DA make my offer worse than the others if we all had same charges? Also never did the DA post a warning to the page. Never did anyone come with any reports of getting food poisoning.”

Ruelas told KTXL that San Joaquin County has it all wrong. She says group members sometimes sold their food to recoup expenses for the recipes they posted and potlucks that were organized by the group.

Credit: Mariza Ruelas / Facebook
CREDIT: Credit: Mariza Ruelas / Facebook

Ruelas added that group members sometimes paid for a dish when they didn’t have their own dish to trade. “Somebody would be like, ‘Oh, I don’t have anything to trade you but I would love to buy a plate,'” said Ruelas to KTXL.

San Joaquin Deputy District Attorney Kelly McDaniel told KTXL that she enforces the law — she doesn’t write it.

Credit: KTXL / Fox 40
CREDIT: Credit: KTXL / Fox 40

“Food prepared in a facility that does not inspect it creates a risk to the public,” said McDaniel. (They should probably learn how to spell “ceviche,” though.)

Watch KTXL’s full story here.

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