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State’s Requests for Criminal Charges in COVID Restaurant Cases Rebuffed by Kern DA



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In a county like Kern where it’s not hard to find a restaurant or bar operating in apparent violation of California’s 11-month-old pandemic health order, the agency responsible for coming down on offenders hasn’t been shy about pursuing criminal charges. But neither has it been successful.

Nine times since last summer the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has asked the county District Attorney’s Office to bring criminal misdemeanor charges over an alleged violation. The most recent request arrived Wednesday.

But so far, at least, the D.A.’s Office has chosen not to pursue criminal charges.

“If we filed misdemeanor charges against every (alcohol-serving) business, we’d make criminals out of every business owner. A lot of them, anyway,” Assistant District Attorney Joseph A. Kinzel said.

But the state says it continues to build up evidence, and the D.A.’s Office says it may yet decide to file charges against accused violators.

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