When California single mother of six Mariza Ruelas joined the Facebook group 209 Food Spot a few years ago, she and other members would exchange recipes, meet for potlucks, and sometimes swap or sell their dishes among members. So Ruelas said yes when a member of the group asked to buy her signature ceviche dish last December, not knowing it was an undercover investigator from San Joaquin County who, according to court documents, was on a sting because most members didn’t have permits to sell food. “Food prepared in a facility that does not inspect it creates a risk to the public,” the county deputy district attorney said. Ruelas maintains this wasn’t a business venture, just a harmless hobby among like-minded folks.
She was one of several members to be cited for misdemeanors in the sting, but while everyone else accepted a plea deal, she has refused—her proposed plea bargain carried three years of probation, 80 hours of community service, and a $235 fine, reports the New York Daily News. Now she faces up to a year in jail and is worried about what will happen to her kids. Ruelas, who called the sting a “waste of time and resources” in a Facebook post Friday, is due in court Wednesday. Facebook, meanwhile, prohibits using the site to sell guns, ammunition, and drugs, but it doesn’t mention food on its “Community Standards” page.