SANTA ANA- On December 31, 2020, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announce that the owner of a Costa Mesa bar has been charged with illegally operating during the COVID-19 pandemic despite repeated attempts by law enforcement and the city Code Enforcement officers to educate the bar owner on the law and seek voluntarily compliance with the non-essential business curfew order. The manager of the bar has been charged with resisting a police officer when she allegedly attempted to prevent him from entering the bar.
Roland Michael Barrera, 47, of Costa Mesa and owner of the Westend Bar, has been charged with one misdemeanor count of violating and neglecting to obey a lawful order and regulation. Luisza Giulietta Mauro, 26, of Huntington Beach and manager of the bar, has been charged with one misdemeanor count of resisting a police officer.
Costa Mesa police officers, code enforcement officers and agents from the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) responded to the Westend Bar numerous times since an emergency lockdown order was issued on November 19, 2020 mandating all non-essential businesses close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. According to the district attorney’s office, on multiple occasions the Westend Bar continued to operate outside of the mandated closure times, at time hosting 50-70 customers without enforcing social distancing or facial coverings for their employees or customers.
At approximately 11 p.m. on December 12, 2020, Mauro is accused of grabbing a uniformed police officer and physically trying to prevent him from entering the Westend Bar. This establishment, like all bars in the state of California, is regulated through ABC and law enforcement access is a condition of its license as a bar.
“ABC agents have been working from the very start of this pandemic to educate bar and restaurant owners regarding health and safety regulations as they pertain to COVID-19 and the spread of this deadly virus,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “It is a trying and tedious time for many business owners but they risk being prosecuted and losing their licenses by not following regulations that are mean to protect the health and safety of all of us.”
Both the owner and the manager face a maximum sentence of one year in jail if convicted. They have not yet been arraigned. The District Attorney’s Office reports it is hopeful that there will be no new violations and that the case can be resolved through additional education courses through ABC and other educational efforts instead of jail time.
“This pandemic has not only cost millions of lives, it has cost countless business owners their livelihoods as they struggle to survive,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “Orange County is home to tens of thousands of businesses who have either ceased operations or have continued to operate while implementing mitigating measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. It is unacceptable for a business to repeatedly flaunt the regulations and continue to operate without even attempting to institute any mitigating measures that are designed to save lives. This is not just any business. 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 the do the right thing during these extremely trying times.”