SANTA ANA, Calif. – 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 attempted to prevent him from entering the bar.
Roland Michael Barrera, the 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, who manages the bar, has been charged with one misdemeanor count of resisting a police officer.
Barrera, 47, of Costa Mesa, and Mauro, 26, of Huntington Beach, both face a maximum sentence of one year in jail if convicted. They are scheduled to be arraigned at the West Justice Center on June 22, 2021. The District Attorney’s Office is hopeful that there will be no new violations and that the case can be resolved through additional education courses through the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control(ABC) and other educational efforts instead of jail time.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office has supported an education and outreach philosophy in regards to the health orders and has thus far, declined to file charges in nearly two dozen cases presented to the OCDA from around the county against business owners accused of operating illegally during the pandemic.
“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.”
Costa Mesa police, Code Enforcement officers and agents from the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) have 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. 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.
Assistant District Attorney Susan Price of the West Justice Center is prosecuting this case.