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No Charges Filed Against Cactus Gallery for Potluck Party

Sandra Mastroianni thanks supporters of her gallery for writing to the courts in her defense.

Sandra Mastroianni, owner of Eagle Rock's Cactus Gallery, announced on Facebook Thursday morning that no charges would be filed against her for a Dec. 8 incident in which officers from the Los Angeles Police Department broke up a celebratory potluck at the studio featuring live music and wine.

Mastroianni posted the following message on Facebook at 9:30 a.m.

Good morning FB family and friends - I just got back from my court appearance regarding the misdemeanors I was charged with on Dec 8th. NO CHARGES were filed! I feel so relieved. Thanks to all of you who expressed your concern, wrote letters, made phone calls and emailed the city and PD. Feelin' the love today!!!

According to Mastroianni, up to 10 LAPD Northeast Division Officers flooded Cactus Gallery on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 8 to break up a potluck party celebrating the gallery's final public showing.

Mastroianni said that live music was played during the party, and that alcohol was served, but not sold. There was also a tip jar for patrons.

She said that the party, which officers cited at 8:15 p.m., was not loud or rowdy, and that the live music comprised three woman and one man had barely played three songs when the event was stopped.

LAPD Northeast Captain Bill Murphy said officers were drawn to the Gallery by the live music, which he said they described as "loud for the area."

Once inside, Murphy said, officers were required to cite Mastroianni for serving alcohol without a permit.

Following the citation, Mastroianni took to Facebook to called on supporters to write letters to the court explaining that she had never sold alcohol at Cactus.

However, Murphy said even if Mastroianni hadn't sold liquor, it was still against the law to serve without a permit.

“The point that needs to be known is that an art gallery or any other business—a laundromat, tire shop, whatever—can’t just bring in wine and cheese and serve it,” Murphy told Patch in December. “You have to get a permit for that—and that didn’t happen.”

The Alcohol Beverage Commission's trade manual states: "Giving, selling, or furnishing free alcoholic beverages at an unlicensed salon, clothing store, jewelry store, art gallery, etc. is not legal (California Business & Professions Code Section 23300). Businesses like these will be considered illegal bottle clubs if alcohol is provided to, or consumed by, customers (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code Sec. 25604)"

In Decmember, Murphy told Patch that, had somebody gotten into a car accident after drinking alcohol at Cactus, the Police Department could have been sued for failing to enforce the law.

Mastroianni told Patch on Thursday that she wasn't sure the charges weren't filed, but she was grateful. 

"Not sure what happened, maybe the art gods were aware of the citation and did their magic, maybe pressure from people in the neighborhood made the police department rethink it, maybe it got lost, maybe it was a mistake, not sure," she said. "I am glad it is over. I sell art, not wine."

Murphy said he was fine with the fact that the City Attorney had decided not to file charges.

"We had a good hour-long meeting with members of the arts community and I explained all kind of rules," he said. "I'm not upset at all; it gave us opportunity to educate the public. They're not a menace to society or anything."

nonoise January 04, 2013 at 03:22 AM
How about suing LAPD for failure to enforce the noise law against Divine Saviour Catholic church? The city attorney did not file charges because their budget has been cut in half. They do not have enough attorneys to go after all crimes. So, some people will get away with stuff because the city attorney has no money in their budget.
nonoise January 04, 2013 at 03:24 AM
The charges were not filed for having a potluck. They were filed for serving alcohol without a liquor license. Big difference.
Joe Walker January 04, 2013 at 02:40 PM
One of the highest crime areas in Highland Park is just a few blocks away, and they are converging on the Gallery to break up a party?
Picorian January 04, 2013 at 08:02 PM
Glad there were no charges. The LAPD have a tough job out there to do, so they should focus on real stuff like gang activity
Duff Strong January 05, 2013 at 12:51 AM
I'm go glad we pay the city to crack down on those rowdy gallery parties. I heard some people were even singing! Oh noes! Just like weed, alcohol is another way for the dirty politicians to enforce moral behavior and suck funds from the population. Now that the pot shops are gone, eagle rock needs a new boogeyman. Happy gatherings it is!
kelly thompson January 05, 2013 at 03:21 AM
Great news! Yes much more important things for the city attorney to do with a budget cut. I had never heard that someone got in a car accident and said they were drinking at Cactus. Would love to know more and hopefully all is well. Have a safe a Happy New Year all!
nonoise January 05, 2013 at 09:27 PM
That could have happened. Drinking and driving is a very bad mix. And, it is very serious to serve alcohol with out a liquor license or permit.

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