Sect Leader Jailed for Health Code Spat

85-year-old sect leader sentenced, refused to let health inspectors into Calif. tearoom

Associated Press/January 13, 2007

An 85-year-old grandmother and leader of a small religious sect was sentenced Friday to six days in jail for refusing to let health inspectors into a tearoom the group runs.

Marie Kolasinski, the feisty and camouflage-clad leader of the Piecemakers, was taken into custody immediately after her sentencing hearing, said her attorney, Joseph Donahue.

After the hearing, members of the Piecemakers said they had been "sold down the river" by their attorney because of the sentencing agreement.

"God wins in the end. Good comes out of everything and Marie will say the same thing. She's put Christ first her whole life and she puts us first," member Doug Follette said in a telephone interview.

Follette and Judy Haeger, another member, were sentenced to three years of probation and must complete community service in the same case.

The three owe a combined $9,074 in fines, Donahue said.

The Piecemakers have battled for years over a laundry list of code violations, claiming the rule of God is greater than the rule of man.

The sect runs a labyrinthine craft-and-quilt store, tearoom, small candy shop, construction company, hair salon and crafts school.

Under the terms of the sentencing agreement, the Piecemakers must follow all health code rules in Orange County and get a permit if they want to continue to sell unpackaged food.

Kolasinski founded the Piecemakers in 1978. She describes the group as "born-again Christians who have finished their walk to the full Gospel."

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