Woman pleads guilty to felony charges for buying minors vodka
Rockland — A Rockland woman pleaded guilty Oct. 11 to two felony counts of furnishing liquor to a minor after vodka she purchased led to the hospitalization of two girls, aged 13 and 14 at the time of the incident.
Brenda Shepard, 64, will not face prison time provided she meets the conditions of a deferred disposition agreement, which will lower the felony charges to misdemeanors. After the term of one year, provided she receives evaluations for substance abuse and mental health counseling and abides by certain other conditions, she will be sentenced to 364 days in jail, all suspended, and serve maximum jail time of 90 days plus one year of probation for the misdemeanor charges.
Shepard’s grandson, Ryan J. Newbert, 20, of Rockland, pleaded guilty in July to two felony counts each of furnishing liquor to a minor and aggravated furnishing of scheduled drugs in connection with the incident, which occurred Feb. 29.
According to documents filed in Knox County Unified Court, on Feb. 29, at an apartment in Rockland, Newbert gave the girls crushed Lorazepam pills, which they snorted. Lorazepam is a prescription sedative used to treat anxiety and seizures.
Later, Newbert asked Shepard to buy alcohol for him and the girls. According to the affidavit, surveillance footage from Hannaford Supermarket on Maverick Street showed Shepard and Newbert selecting and buying a half-gallon of vodka. Newbert, the two girls, and two 19-year-old males then began drinking in a car belonging to one of the males, and continued to Lucia Beach State Park in Owls Head.
At 6 p.m. that evening, Officer William Smith of the Rockland Police Department responded to a call from a witness who said they saw an unconscious girl being “stuffed” into a car near Dunkin Donuts on Route 1 in Rockland. When Smith pulled the car over, he saw two unconscious and unresponsive girls in the back seat and called an ambulance.
The girls, in critical condition, were transported to Pen Bay Medical Center and placed on life support, then taken by LifeFlight to Maine Medical Center, where they were treated for acute alcohol poisoning. Detective Joel Neal said April 20 the victims had made a full recovery.
"It is very, very possible that they could have died if they hadn't received medical care," said Rockland Police Sgt. Don Finnegan April 20.
Newbert has also signed a deferred disposition agreement with conditions including a curfew, prohibition from possession of drugs or alcohol, and a jail sentence after a year, provided he abides by the conditions.
If Newbert and Shepard do not abide by the terms of their deferred dispositions, they could face the maximum five-year prison sentence for their class C felony charges.
Reporter Dan Otis Smith can be reached at 594-4401 x123 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dan Otis Smith joined The Courier-Gazette in 2016. He covers the towns of Thomaston, St. George, Cushing, and the Knox County Commission.
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