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Grandmother admits to buying liquor that nearly killed two teenagers

ROCKLAND, Maine — A Rockland grandmother and her grandson have admitted to providing liquor to two young girls who nearly died from alcohol poisoning.

Brenda Shepard, 64, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Knox County Unified Court to two counts of felony furnishing liquor to a minor. Her grandson Ryan L. Newbert, 20, of South Thomason had pleaded guilty in July to the same charges as well as aggravated furnishing of drugs.

The charges resulted from an incident that occurred Feb. 29 in Rockland. According to Rockland police, a motorist reported to police that he witnessed a man stuffing an unconscious woman into a car near the intersection of Main and North Main streets.

Officers responded and found two girls passed out in the car. They were taken by ambulance to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport and later transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland for acute alcohol poisoning, Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald said.

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The girls — one 14 years old at the time of the incident and the other 13 years old — recovered.

The investigation revealed that Newbert asked his grandmother Shepard to buy alcohol for him and she went to the store and purchased a half gallon of vodka, which Newbert gave to the two young girls. Newbert was 19 years old in February.

Newbert also gave the girls the sedative Lorazepam, which they snorted.

Both Shepard and Newbert pleaded guilty as part of deferred dispositions in which the charges will be reduced to misdemeanors if they refrain from criminal conduct and adhere to other terms of their agreement during the next 12 months, which includes getting substance abuse counseling.

If Shepard meets the terms of her deferred disposition, the liquor furnishing charges will be lowered to misdemeanors and she will be sentenced to 364 days in jail with all but up to 90 days suspended. The district attorney’s office can seek to have her serve 90 days while her defense attorney William Pagnano can argue for less or no jail time.

She will also be placed on probation for a year.

Newbert will receive a 364-day jail term with all but five days suspended and placed on probation for a year if he meets the terms of his deferred disposition.

If either of the two fail to meet the terms, they could face up to five years in prison which is the maximum for Class C furnishing liquor to a minor.


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