Piecemakers found guilty

A jury convicts three members of the Christian group for operating eatery without a license and resisting arrest.

Three members of the Piecemakers were convicted today on a mix of misdemeanor charges, including operating a Costa Mesa restaurant without a license and obstruction of justice.

Founder Marie Kolasinski, 84, Douglas Follette, 52, and Judy Haeger, 57, will be sentenced on Jan. 12. They each face a year in jail.

A fourth member of the Christian group, Kathleen Needham, was previously sentenced to 40 hours of community service and three years probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanor resisting health inspectors.

The criminal case stems back to Oct. 6 and 26, 2005, when prosecutors say members of the Christian group physically blocked health inspectors and district attorney investigators from entering the Piecemakers Country Store. An eatery is inside the craft shop.

The trial started Friday, and ended today. The jury deliberated for about an hour and a half before returning the verdict.

Since 1992, prosecutor Scott Steiner said members of the group have long resisted inspections of the restaurant. Every licensed food facility in Orange County has to be inspected three times a year.

“Our position was never that this restaurant is a pig sty,” Steiner said. “We just wanted to have inspectors come in and spend an hour looking at the restaurant.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday November 22, 2006.
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