On November 17th, Magisterial District Judge Jene Willwerth dismissed both charges brought by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture against C.A.R.E. member Jan Haller in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Before cross examination of the Department’s two witnesses was even completed, the Judge dismissed the charges without prejudice. “He made the right ruling” said the Fund’s attorney Gary Cox “because they simply had no evidence of any violation. It was a sloppy investigation from start to finish.”
A PDA inspector had charged Haller with two summary criminal charges, refusing an entry and an inspection by Department inspectors, and failing to obtain a license as a retail food establishment. According to Fund President Pete Kennedy, “this is an important case for the Fund because it has so many members in Pennsylvania. C.A.R.E. should also be proud that one of its members stood up to the intimidating tactics of the Department.”
The Fund argued that Haller had the right to refuse entry and an inspection because the Department inspector insisted on doing so without any search warrant. The Fund also argued that Haller did not need to obtain a retail food license because her operation is a private club and is not open to or accessible by the public at large. The Fund anticipates that the Department will attempt to conduct another investigation into Haller’s operation and that the Department will this time obtain a search warrant.
“We hope to work with the Department to convince them that these types of operations should not even be regulated by the State” explained Kennedy. “People are perfectly capable of determining for themselves what food is and is not safe to eat” said Kennedy. “The government has no business telling people what foods they should or should not eat.”