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4 Charged After Refusing Inspection

November 29, 2005|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

Four members of a small Christian commune in Costa Mesa -- including its 84-year-old founder -- were charged Monday with misdemeanors after refusing to allow health inspections of the food they make and sell.

Arraignment, originally scheduled for Monday but postponed, was set Dec. 15 for Marie Kolasinski, founder of the Piecemakers, as well as for Douglas Follette and Kathleen Needham, both 51, and Judy Haeger, 48. An arrest warrant was also issued for Needham, who did not show up in court Monday for a hearing.

The group operates a popular craft shop and country store equipped with a kitchen from which homemade foods such as soups, pies and muffins are sold. The charges stem from a confrontation last month in which members of the Piecemakers refused to allow Orange County health officials to conduct a court-ordered inspection of their kitchen. Commune members said the code enforcement would violate their rights.

The commune has a history of minor skirmishes with government officials over such issues as its salty description of code inspectors in newspaper ads and its 1997 failure to acquire a permit for staging a musical in a parking lot. If convicted in the latest incident, the commune members could face up to a year of incarceration, said Susan Kang Schroeder, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office.

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