A Fountain Hills cafe owner’s fight to resist lockdown is headed to court

Merita Kraya talks with deputies./MCSO

By Ray Stern | Phoenix New Times

Fountain Hills business owner Merita Kraya received repeated warnings from authorities for allegedly failing to stop people from eating and drinking outside of her cafe.

Now, Kraya will have her day in court.

Following a two-week investigation, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, led by Democrat Paul Penzone, wrote her up on April 7 for allegedly failing to adhere to Governor Doug Ducey’s emergency coronavirus orders, which is a Class One misdemeanor under a state Military Affairs and Emergency statute. She has a pending court date in the McDowell Mountain Justice Court in what could potentially be the state’s first judicial test of the governor’s emergency powers.

Kraya claims she’s being bullied and harassed not just by the deputies, but by town officials and snitching fellow business owners complaining about her. She told Phoenix New Times, as she did the deputies who responded to her cafe, that she was doing nothing wrong.

“I let people sit — they were picking up [food],” she said.

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