Another day another raid in Venice. But this one didn't involve marijuana shops or pot docs or even RV dwellers.
No, this time the targets were purveyors of fine, raw milk, a product you can't really sell legally without special permits. Those, authorities say, were not in-hand when they raided these particular suspects today.
And so agents from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the California Franchise Tax Board, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and all kinds of police descended on the Venice shop Rawesome to make arrests (video via Venice311).
Suspects include, according to a District Attorney's statement:
-Sharon Ann Palmer, 51
-James Cecil Stewart, 64
-And Eugenie Victoria Bloch, 58.
According to the D.A.'s office the three …
… were charged in a 13-count complaint … Palmer owns Healthy Family Farms, LLC, in Santa Paula, which prosecutors allege has operated without any type of license or permit for milk production since 2007. The business Healthy Family Farms and Palmer are charged in nine of the 13 counts. Bloch works for Palmer and is charged in three conspiracy counts.
Stewart runs the Venice market Rawesome, which has been in operation for more than six years but has never had any type of business permit or license, prosecutors allege. Stewart is facing 13 counts.
The arrests were part of a year-long investigation of this alleged raw-milk underground that targeted unpasteurized diary products that also included goat milk, yogurt and kefir.
Prosecutors say that customers paid fees or a $50 membership to get acces to the goods. In case, they said, goat milk was sold out of a van in the back of Health Family Farms.
We hear that feds are targeting illicit cookies next week.
And, BTW, LA Weekly was at the raid. Stay tuned to our sister blog Squid Ink for all the backstory, details and photos you'll ever need to read when it comes to the raw-milk underground.
And remember kids, if some shady character on the boardwalk gives the “pssst” and offers you the white stuff, just say no.