One Stockton single mother of six is potentially facing up to two years in jail after she sold $12 worth of leftover food via a neighborhood Facebook group. Yes, you read that correctly. The LA Times reports that the woman is part of an area Facebook group that swaps meals and smalls favors — you know, building community and stuff — and so last December when 37-year-old Mariza Ruelas had some leftover ceviche she offered up the remaining 32 ounces for $12 bucks. Someone drove to her house, picked up the food, paid, and left.
That person was an undercover investigator, and in July the San Joaquin County district attorney’s office charged her with operating a business and food facility without the proper license. She was offered a plea deal on the misdemeanor charges, but as KRON 4 reports that would have put her on probation for three years and required 80 hours of community service. She declined, and now will have to go to trial. What's worse, the LA Times reports that shortly after she declined to sign the deal prosecutors moved to add additional charges to the case — if accepted by the judge, she could face up to two years in jail if convicted.
"I don't write the laws, I enforce them," San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Kelly McDaniel told Fox 40 when asked about this case. "And the legislature has felt that this is a crime.”
Ruelas, however, doesn't feel that her potential punishment is just. “I gave the same food away that I fed to my family [...] never would I bring them any harm,” she wrote on Facebook. She emphasized to the LA Times that “This is something I did at most twice a month. Like I told everybody else, I’m by myself. My kids go to four different schools. This group was helpful for me. For those days where my mom has dialysis, you can say ‘is anyone willing to trade? I’ll get you this weekend.' ”
Maybe she should have tried selling guns or drugs on Facebook instead.