Joseph Borgna Arrested For Selling Liquor in “Dry” Mendocino

Joseph Borgna and his dog, Bob, c. 1910. Written on back: “The mother was brought over from the Alps [Italy] – this was one of the pups from the litter. It used to pull my brother and I in a little wagon. His home was a piano box.” (W. W. Fairbanks (photographer), Gift of Rene Borgna Tanner, The Rene Borgna Tanner and Ann Borgna Pesula Collection, Kelley House Photographs)

September 16, 1910 – Joseph Borgna, owner of the Sempione Hotel on Ukiah Street, was arrested and hauled into the Big River Justice Court for violating the ordinance prohibiting liquor sales in the “dry” town of Mendocino. Borgna pled Not Guilty to the charge of selling liquor without a license, and his trial was set for Monday, September 26.

On the Thursday afternoon before Borgna’s trial was set to begin, attorney Louis Gonsalves appeared before Justice John Francis Murray on behalf of Borgna. Gonsalves requested a change of venue on the grounds that a fair trial could not be obtained in Mendocino, introducing 8 or 9 affidavits in support of his claim. Judge Murray granted the request and transferred Borgna’s case to Willits.

A delay caused by Borgna’s attorney postponed the Willits trial for an additional month. On October 29, Borgna finally got his day in court, and the case was dismissed.

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