Stockton woman faces trial and potential jail time after joining a social media community food group and selling some of the meals she cooked on the internet.
Mariza Reulas was cited by San Joaquin County for selling an illegal substance, but it wasn’t drugs. It was a bowl of homemade ceviche.
A few years ago Reulas joined a Facebook group called 209 Food Spot – a forum where people from the Stockton area shared recipes, organized potlucks and occasionally sold what they cooked.
If people didn’t have anything to trade, they would buy plates of food.
On December 3 of last year, someone contacted Reulas, asking for a plate of her Ceviche — one of her signature dishes. That person was an undercover investigator from San
Joaquin County, according to court documents, on a sting because the majority of 209 Food Spot members didn’t have permits to sell their food.
She, along with dozens others, was cited for two misdemeanors for operating a food facility and engaging in business without a permit.
Reulas refused to plea down to three years of probation. Now the single mother of six is headed to trial and could end up in jail.
“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. She says selling any food that hasn’t been approved by the health department puts whoever eats it in real danger.
She also says that the 209 Food Spot Facebook group was sent a warning before the charges were handed down.
Reulas worries about her children when she thinks about the potential jail time she may face.
Without a father in their life, Reulas says the thought of having to leave her kids scares her. Every court appearance takes a toll on her youngest son, Justice, who is six years old.
Of the people charges, Reulas is the only one whose case is headed to trial because she was the only person charged who refused to accept a plea from the district attorney.