Accused party mom dodges jail time — (TC Palm)

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TC Palm

By Melissa E. Holsman, staff writer – melissa.holsman@scripps.com

March 29, 2005

The judge orders Donna Rydberg, who allegedly provided drugs and vodka-based “Jell-O shots” to three minors, to house arrest and probation.

STUART – A woman accused of allowing children to use drugs and alcohol in her home avoided jail Monday when she tearfully told a court she’d lost her good judgment in a haze of prescription anti-depressants.

Prosecutors accused Donna Rydberg, 47, of providing drugs and vodka-based “Jell-O shots” to three minor girls – including her 17-year-old daughter – before she was arrested June 4 at her Palm City home.

“I am so humiliated and so mortified and so sorry for what I’ve caused,” a choked up Rydberg told Circuit Judge Dwight Geiger. “I wouldn’t do today what I did 10 months ago. I didn’t seem to care. I lost all sense of reality and judgment.”

According to sheriff’s reports, a “cooperating citizen” helped police record Rydberg as she provided him with two Xanax pills the day before she was arrested.

After searching her home, detectives arrested Rydberg on charges including drug possession, sale or delivery of Xanax, and three counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Three girls in the home had Blood-alcohol levels of 0.02 percent, a sheriff’s report stated. All three admitted to drinking in front of Rydberg.

On the counters were plastic cups containing the Jell-O shots, detectives noted.

Rydberg’s lawyer, Richard Kibbey, of Stuart, insisted it wasn’t a case of a party-loving mom but the result of a “medical-induced meltdown” that caused a lapse in judgment.

“She was under a doctor’s care; she was taking four different prescribed medications, including Xanax and Prozac,” Kibbey said. “And the combined effect of those medications caused a mental disorder.”

Rydberg said she’d sought medical help for stress resulting from single-motherhood, long work hours and money problems.

“I went to this doctor for help, because I was definitely struggling, and all she did was make the problems that I had even worse,” Rydberg told the court. “I’m a good person. I just fell into some bad circumstances.”

She pleaded no contest Monday to misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and a felony charge of sale or delivery of Xanax.

Prosecutors sought six months in jail, but Geiger ordered Rydberg to serve two years house arrest and two years of probation.

He also withheld adjudication of guilt on the felony charge and ordered Rydberg to pay $1,500 in fines, take parenting classes and avoid contact with minors in her home without another adult present.