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Judge Rules Against Vons in a Scanner Violation Case

By Lookout Staff

Dec. 7 -- A Superior Court judge on Friday shot down a motion by Vons Companies, Inc. to dismiss a criminal complaint against the chain for charging higher than the posted price on sale items at one of its Santa Monica stores.

The case stems from a routine undercover scanner inspection conducted on October 31, 2001 at the Pavilions store at 820 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.

Six of the twenty items selected, by an investigator from the County Department of Agricultural Commissioner/Weights and Measures were incorrectly scanned, resulting in overcharges, according to the case.

Vons -- which has been convicted numerous times of violating the Business and Professions Code for overcharging at various stores in the County -- argued that charges could not be brought against the supermarket chain because it had prevailed in two similar cases.

The chain was acquitted by a judge in a similar case in 1998, and an administrative hearing officer in Ventura County earlier this year found Vons had not violated the same section of the Business and Professions Code.

Judge Judge Bernard Kamins, however, denied the motion, stating that this case stems from new facts.

"Vons' argument that because they were acquitted of similar charges four years ago they are now free from prosecution for new violations is legal nonsense," said Deputy City Attorney Eda U. Suh, who represented the People at the hearing.

Vons is charged with six counts of violating Section 12024.2 of the code for charging higher than the posted price on sale items. The chain is also charged with one count of violating Section 17500 of the code for disseminating false and misleading advertisement.

The trial is set for February 6.
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