CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA (CBS SF) – A restaurant owner in Carmel-by-the-Sea has agreed to pay $15,000 in civil penalties after being criminally charged last month for violating state and local health orders amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Monterey County prosecutors said Monday.

The Tuck Box restaurant located on Dolores Street and its owner Jeffrey LeTowt agreed to the settlement after being accused of providing dine-in service when it was prohibited by the health orders, as well as failing to follow social distancing protocols and having employees not wear face coverings while working.

People standing outside The Tuck Box restaurant in Carmel on May 15, 2020. The restaurant and its owner are accused of violating the coronavirus shelter-in-place order. (Len Ramirez / CBS)

People standing outside The Tuck Box restaurant in Carmel on May 15, 2020. The restaurant and its owner are accused of violating the coronavirus shelter-in-place order. (Len Ramirez / CBS)

The agreement includes an injunction requiring The Tuck Box to comply with the terms of the health orders. If not, LeTowt and the restaurant will have to pay an additional $20,000, according to the district attorney’s office.

Prosecutors had said that prior to the filing of criminal charges, authorities had warned LeTowt about the violations of the health orders, which are meant to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“I’ve had it. So have my customers. So has the state of California. Let’s open up,” LeTowt told KPIX 5 in an interview last month.

LeTowt said he lost $60,000 during the month and a half his restaurant was closed and contended that the risk was low.

His supporters, some from outside the area, defiantly dined-in.

“We want to rebel. And we’re old people! We should be following the rules, but the rules are getting ridiculous,” said neighbor Bella Iffla.

After criminal charges were filed, the Dhillon Law Group announced that it was representing the restaurant.

The firm’s managing partner Harmeet Dhillon has been a Republican Party state official and has filed various lawsuits related to the COVID-19 shelter orders.

“It is truly saddening that a district attorney would go to such lengths to attack a small business owner attempting to generate revenue to pay its employees and bills, and seeking to serve customers safely,” Dhillon said.

District Attorney Jeannine Pacioni said in Monday’s announcement of the settlement, “It remains critical that individuals and businesses continue to follow the state and local COVID-19 emergency health orders. The District Attorney’s Office will continue to respond to complaints regarding businesses violating the emergency health orders, including the social distancing protocols.”

Pacioni said, “We are all in this fight against COVID-19 together, and we must continue to look out for each other. Thank you to everyone who is doing their part.”

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