Proprietor of Westend Bar in Costa Mesa charged with illegally working regardless of COVID-19 pandemic curfew

COSTA MESA, Calif. (KABC) – The owner of a Costa Mesa bar was accused of illegally working for non-essential businesses during curfew during the coronavirus pandemic, prosecutors said Thursday.

Ronald Michael Barrera, who owns the Westend Bar, has faced a crime in which he violates and neglects a lawful order and regulation, according to Orange County prosecutors.

The charges came after “repeated attempts” by law enforcement and city lawmakers to educate him about the law and demand voluntary compliance, officials added. The 47-year-old Costa Mesa resident and bar owner repeatedly refused to obey an order requiring all non-essential businesses to close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Police, law enforcement officers and California Department of Alcohol Control (ABC) agents have responded to the bar more than once since an emergency lockdown warrant was issued on November 19.

Prosecutors say the companies continued to operate “multiple times” outside of the prescribed closing times and temporarily hosted 50 to 70 customers without enforcing physical distancing or face covering for employees or customers.

“It is unacceptable for a company to repeatedly flaunt the regulations and keep working without even trying to take mitigating measures designed to save lives. This is not just any company. This is a company that has been given opportunity for opportunity Corrective action and it failed, “District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement.

In addition, the bar’s manager, Luisza Giulietta Mauro, 26, was charged with a crime of resisting a police officer. According to the prosecutor, Mauro is said to have tried to physically prevent the officer from entering the shop on December 12.

“This apparent disregard for local and state health regulations is a slap in the face for hardworking business owners who continue to try to do what is right during these extremely difficult times,” added Spitzer.

Both Barerra and Maura are due to be indicted on June 22 and could each sit in prison for up to a year if convicted.

However, prosecutors said it was hoped there would be no new violations and that the case could be resolved through additional training courses from California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and other educational activities in lieu of jail time.

As public health officials express concern about “super-spreader” events that have contributed to the current COVID-19 surge, a Santa Ana company also plans to defy coronavirus regulations and host a New Years Eve party.

A flyer spread on social media advertises food and music at Club Azarte until 2 a.m.

No complaints have been filed against the companies, according to a statement from employees of the county’s environmental health department.

“When complaints are received, the OC Health Care Agency (HCA) provides education and guidance on compliance with state and local health regulations and related guidance,” said Marc Meulman of the agency.

However, local residents in the area say the business has seen stable business. One woman who refused to be identified said, “Party buses come and drop people off to go in there.”

Brenda Ortega, concerned about her diabetic mother and community, says something needs to happen.

“… To find or close them. I understand everyone wants to work, but it’s … just really risky. We have to protect ourselves. If we don’t protect ourselves, this thing won’t go away,” she said .

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