Man busted for selling bad moonshine

Tom Godfrey, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:33 PM ET

TORONTO - An outbreak of illness among aboriginal men has led to charges against a Kensington Market bakery owner who Toronto Police allege was selling almost-pure moonshine whisky by the cupful to desperate street people.

Police issued a warning to people living on the streets or in hostels to avoid buying moonshine or other forms of alcohol that is not liquor because they can become violently ill.

The men suffered "violent stomach pain" after drinking the booze and have all recovered, police said.

"We have had a number of complaints from aboriginal health centres about people getting sick," said Det.-Sgt. Brian Kelly. "It all related to a business that was selling moonshine."

Kelly said the sale or use of moonshine is rare in Toronto, and officers worked with community members to stop the sale and prevent further illnesses.

He alleged coffee cups containing the booze were being sold to people for less than $5 each. The booze was ingested straight without a mix, police said.

"People could buy the moonshine in different sizes of cups or bottles," Kelly alleged. "We believe the suspect was profiting from the victims by selling them something that could lead to injury."

Business owners near La Rosa's Bakery on Augusta Ave., which was searched by police Monday, said they were surprised by the charges.

Police seized four litres each of moonshine and wine, three cases of beer and $800 in cash.

Detectives said they didn't find a still used for brewing the booze and are probing if the moonshine was made outside Toronto.

An employee at the bakery, who refused to give her name, said the accused owns the bakery and works the evening shift.

"I am totally stunned and taken back by all this," said Troy Hayward, owner of Fada Scooters, next to the busted bakery. "I have been eating there for three years and the food is good."

Jim Barnhardt of Fresco's Fish and Chips said he's surprised his neighbour faces Liquor Act charges.

"This is a very clean area with good people," Barnhardt said. "I am very surprised by this."

Marianne Kecskemeti of Hungary Thai Bar and Eatery said the moonshine allegation is bad for area businesses.

"This is unbelievable," she said. "This is not good news for my business or others in the area."

David Tavares, 58, of Toronto, has been charged under Ontario liquor laws for allegedly supplying alcohol in a form that is not liquor, unlawfully selling liquor and two other offences.

He is slated to appear at Old City Hall on Aug. 4.


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