Costa Mesa bar owner charged with illegally operating during pandemic

A local bar owner suspected of repeatedly keeping his business open during the pandemic is facing criminal charges.

Roland Barrera, the owner of the Westend Bar in Costa Mesa, is being charged with misdemeanor violating and neglecting to obey a lawful order and regulation. According to a press release from Orange County DA Todd Spitzer's office, Barrera kept the business open "despite repeated attempts by law enforcement and the city Code Enforcement officers to educate the bar owner on the law and seek voluntary compliance with the non-essential business curfew order."

The bar's manager, Luisza Mauro, is also accused of grabbing a uniformed police officer and physically tried to prevent the officer from entering the bar during an incident on December 12, 2020, according to the DA's office.

The DA's office said Costa Mesa police, code enforcement officers and California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control responded to the Westend Bar numerous times since the statewide curfew was issued mid-November of 2020.

If convicted, both Barrera and Mauro could face up to one year in jail.

The two face arraignment on June 22, 2021. The DA's office said in a press release that the two could avoid jail time if they don't get in any more trouble moving forward and "the case can be resolved through additional education courses through the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control(ABC) and other educational efforts."

While the county's DA office is prioritizing education over jail time, Spitzer said in a statement that it is unacceptable for businesses to repeatedly break the rules.

"This is a business that was provided opportunity after opportunity to take corrective action and it has failed to do so. This blatant disregard of the local and state health orders is a slap in the face to hardworking business owners who continue to try to do the right thing during these extremely trying times," Spitzer said in a statement.

Below is a press release from Orange County DA Todd Spitzer's office:

As of this week, all of Southern California remains under Governor Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home order. The ordinance kicked in after the region's ICU capacity dropped below the 15% threshold.

SoCal was technically eligible to get out of the order earlier this week had the region improved its ICU capacity numbers. However, because the region didn't -- and remains at 0% capacity -- Gov. Newsom extended the order for SoCal for another three weeks. The stay-at-home order overtook the state's curfew when it officially kicked in for the region.

With the stay-at-home order, the following businesses are forced to close:

  • indoor and outdoor playgrounds
  • indoor recreational facilities
  • hair salons and barbershops
  • personal care services
  • museums, zoos, and aquariums
  • movie theaters
  • wineries
  • bars, breweries and distilleries
  • family entertainment centers
  • cardrooms and satellite wagering
  • limited services
  • live audience sports
  • amusement parks

Restaurants are restricted to takeout and delivery service only. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: State health officials extend SoCal stay-at-home order into 2021

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