10 more businesses in L.A. charged with violating order to close during virus crisis

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A pedestrian crosses a street in downtown Los Angeles during the coronavirus pandemic on April 14, 2020. (Credit: Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images)

A pedestrian crosses a street in downtown Los Angeles during the coronavirus pandemic on April 14, 2020. (Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images)

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Another 10 businesses in Los Angeles are being prosecuted for allegedly flouting the mayor’s order to shutter during the coronavirus outbreak, the city attorney announced Tuesday.

So far, the city has filed misdemeanor charges against 14 businesses — half of them smoke shops — that stayed open despite being deemed non-essential, according to City Attorney Mike Feuer.

“I understand the intense need of businesses to be open and make money again,” Feuer said at Mayor Eric Garcetti’s virus briefing. “They have bills to pay, and employees whose livelihoods depend on them. We get it. But nonetheless, this is a moment when shared sacrifice will allow all of us to get back to normal as soon as possible.”

So far, officials have visited 1,200 non-essential businesses that were reported to be ignoring the order, and most opted to comply and shut their doors. But 79 of them have been referred to Feuer’s office for consideration of misdemeanor violations, the mayor said.

The 10 newly charged businesses include:

  • My Smoke Shop at 22876 W. Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills
  • Studio City Smoke Shop at 11046 Ventura Blvd., Studio City
  • Lincoln Tobacco at 608 Lincoln Blvd., Venice
  • Mike’s Smoke Shop at 12038 Burbank Blvd., Valley Village
  • Drip N Vape at 23706 Victory Blvd., West Hills
  • Bellagio Express Car Wash at 6344 Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys
  • Spa Castle Massage at 19644 Sherman Way, Reseda
  • Henney’s Printing at 4166 Verdugo Road, Glassell Park
  • Vantage Green Professional Auto Detailing at 2700 N. Eastern Ave., El Sereno
  • Discount Beauty Supply at 8600 South Hoover St, Vermont Knolls

The four previously charged businesses were Business Discount Electronics in downtown L.A., Brothers Shoes in Vermont-Slauson, Hot Box Smoke Shop in Gramercy Park and DTLA Smoke Shop downtown.

Citizens can report any businesses that have remained open at coronavirus.lacity.org/businessviolation.

Feuer also said his office will continue to defend the order from attempts by gun rights groups, who have filed claims over its classification of firearms shops as non-essential businesses.

A state court denied a request to allow weapon stores to reopen for a second time Tuesday, according to the city attorney’s office.

“The mayor’s order is clear: Gun shops and all other non-essential businesses must close,” Feuer said.

The city attorney’s office is also going after price-gouging and coronavirus treatments being sold online based on unfounded claims.

“We’re going on the internet. We’re not really waiting for your complaints,” he said.

Feuer says he’s working with Amazon, which is handing over the identities of third-party sellers and reporting the prices they were charging before the emergency.

Any that have increased the cost more than 10% will be prosecuted. In one case identified, a package of 10 protective masks that cost $39.99 before the crisis was listed for $269.99, Feuer said.

Among the dangerous products the city attorney’s office says it’s targeting are home test kits, which aren’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; vitamin C supplements claiming to treat COVID-19; and even televangelist Jim Bakker’s marketing of a silver solution.

Feuer said his office also responded to reports that Norwegian Cruise Line employees were telling consumers they would be less susceptible to the virus if they traveled somewhere warm.

“We contacted the cruise line; they immediately assured us those representations would stop and began internal investigation,” he said.

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