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Long Beach restaurant owner won’t be fines for violating Covid-19 measures, but will do extra volunteer work

Long Beach, Calif. – Dana Tanner, owner of the Fourth Street restaurant Restauration, was charged with 20 misdemeanors for violating COVID-19 laws prohibiting all in-person dining in January 2021, when hundreds of Long Beach people were hospitalized and dozens were dying each week from the sickness. Tanner attracted the attention of police when she publicized a New Year’s Eve party, encouraged others to disobey the dining prohibition, and utilized a stolen gas line to keep her kitchen open after the city cut off her utilities.

In February of this year, Judge Christopher J. Frisco agreed to divert the case, sparing Tanner from having to face criminal charges, if she fulfilled certain requirements, such as performing 40 hours of community service and repaying the $5,019 it cost emergency crews to disconnect the illegal gas line, which neighbors reported was leaking.

In recent weeks, attorneys have sparred about whether Tanner should be permitted to perform further community service in lieu of paying the $5,019 fine.

Tanner claimed that the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s office had promised to waive the charge in exchange for additional volunteer work. However, City Prosecutor Doug Haubert denied making such a commitment and noted that the judge, not his office, determines the terms of diversion.

Haubert noted in court documents that more than $9,300 had been donated to a GoFundMe account for Tanner’s legal defense.

Nonetheless, Tanner stated on Monday that she was unable to pay, telling Judge Frisco that she owed tens of thousands of dollars as a result of closing Restauration and leaving Long Beach. Tanner stated that she works part-time at her sister’s business and cares for her autistic nine-year-old kid.

To make amends, Tanner stated that she had volunteered for over 40 additional hours of community service through social media marketing and other promotion for Long Beach organizations that promote local eateries and collect food for the needy.

Before waiving the $5,019 fine, Judge Frisco ruled that Tanner “technically” broke the law by refusing to close. However, I understand why you broke the law because you needed to provide for your family and pay your debts.

Frisco disclosed that his family is also involved in the food industry.

He stated that it was not his position to judge how California handled COVID-19 lockdowns, “but I know that many people lost everything because of it, and you’re certainly one of those individuals.”

Frisco stated that forcing Tanner and others to close during the holiday season, when most restaurants generate the greatest revenue, was a “double whammy” that was “very punishing to you and your family.”

Tanner fell into tears, thanked the judge, and exited the courthouse immediately after he dismissed the matter without ordering her to pay.

Haubert, the city prosecutor, stated that Long Beach officials might still attempt to reclaim the $5,019 by suing Tanner in civil court, but the criminal case, which lasted more than a year, has been resolved.

It cost $28,000 to investigate restaurant owner who defied COVID rules, city says

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