13 May The Argonaut: Undercover Sting Targets Kombucha
UNDERCOVER STING TARGETS KOMBUCHA AT VENICE SPIRITUAL CENTER
By Gary Walker and Joe Piasecki
Undercover agents with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control seized several containers of kombucha during a nonprofit fundraising event on Friday night at the Full Circle spiritual center on Rose Avenue in Venice.
ABC agents issued a citation for selling alcohol without a license after they observed the effervescent fermented tea being served, ABC Special Agent in Charge Will Salao said.
“We’re a complaint-driven agency, so when someone notifies us about what might be an illegal activity, we respond to it,” Salao said. “They were cited for a misdemeanor for selling alcohol without a license.”
Actor Andrew Keegan, a co-founder of the New Age spiritual center, said the temple and events venue was hosting a fundraiser for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society that night.
“They may be a complaint-driven agency, but we’re an intention-driven organization and our intentions are pure,” Keegan said.
“Kombucha is something we’d never imagine to be an illegal substance, and it’s frustrating the system has that perspective,” Keegan said. “We’re certainly taking full responsibility for co-creating the event. We try to put our best foot forward. We wanted to raise money for Sea Shepherd as a community; that’s how Full Circle operates.”
John Carr, an ABC spokesman, said the citation was given to “an employee or representative of the church.”
Salao said the ABC often approves single-day alcohol sales permits for community functions but had not granted an alcohol permit for the May 8 party.
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