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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Crack Market: Why Can't Store Busted for Crack Sales Pay Penalties with Crack Profits?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 19, 2012 at 7:15 AM

click to enlarge "Peanut butter and crack sandwich..."
  • "Peanut butter and crack sandwich..."

Earlier this week, the city lowered the boom on Barah's Market, a place where C&H was less likely to refer to pure cane sugar than crack and heroin (purity uncertain).

Among other stipulations, the market at Turk and Leavenworth will have to pony up $30,000 in penalties to the city. Since it's easier to amass large amounts of money slinging crack than selling popsicles, this prompts a question: How can the city be certain the fine money it's due wasn't earned by pushing drugs?

Per the judgment in this case, the city can shut down Barah's if it violates the terms of several injunctions for the next several years hence. The market's owners are well aware of the plight of the nearby Razan Deli at 391 Ellis, which was forcibly shuttered for one year and mandated to surrender $80,000 in penalties to the city. This is impetus for Barah's to stay on the straight and narrow.

But if it still has money lying around from its crack-happy days, what then?

"Peanut butter and crack sandwich..."
  • "Peanut butter and crack sandwich..."
City Attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey said his office will have to "accept representations" from Barah's that the money it pays was earned honorably, selling booze and junk food to the denizens of the Tenderloin, and not narcotics.

Such a situation is not unusual in this and other cities. In order to owe the city fine money, one must be found guilty of some manner of wrongdoing. So a slumlord may well be paying fines with funds extracted from oppressed renters. Junkies, too, may be the original source of fine payments.

"We always rely upon representations," notes Dorsey. "We rely on representations ... that these are not illegally obtained funds."

And if those "representations" don't check out -- "It will have very serious consequences."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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