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Ventura Dairy Farmer Pleads Guilty Over Raw Milk

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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LOS ANGELES (AP)— The Ventura County dairy farmer who was arrested in a dramatic raid on a Venice health food store where officers dumped gallons of unpasteurized milk products was sentenced to community service and a $1,300 fine on Friday, prosecutors said.

Sharon Ann Palmer, 52, and her business, Healthy Family Farms of Santa Paula, pleaded guilty to one count of selling her goat milk stored in unsanitary conditions to Rawesome market, said Jane Robison, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Superior Court Judge David Horowitz ordered Palmer to serve three years’ probation, complete 40 hours of community service and pay a $1,300 fine. Eight other counts against Palmer and the business were dismissed.

A volunteer, 59-year-old Eugenie Victoria Bloch, pleaded guilty to the same charge and was sentenced to two years’ probation. Three counts of conspiracy against her were dismissed.

Unpasteurized milk is legal in California but it’s regulated to meet health standards. In the past, unpasteurized milk has been blamed for outbreaks of bacterial illnesses.

The case against Rawesome market owner James Stewart is pending. Prosecutors have alleged that Rawesome was selling food to the public for six years without permits.

Supporters said the market is really a members-only club specializing in raw foods. They accused the government of an unjustified crackdown on raw milk.

The crackdown sparked a protest outside the Los Angeles courthouse when Stewart was arraigned in 2011.

The arrests came after a yearlong probe in which undercover investigators said they purchased unpasteurized goat milk, cheese and yogurt from Healthy Family Farms stands at farmers markets.

Investigators also searched Rawesome in June 2010, seizing stacks of unmarked jugs of raw milk, cartons of raw goat and cow milk, and blocks of unpasteurized goat cheese, among other grocery items.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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