Mother punished for tampering with son’s Ritalin medication

SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times Waterford resident Shanna Gorrell received a sentence of 30 days in jail and three years of community control in Washington County Common Pleas Court Thursday. At left is her defense attorney, Rolf Baumgartel.

By Sam Shawver

Special to the Times

A Waterford woman accused of taking some of her child’s prescription medication was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of community control in Washington County Common Pleas Court Thursday.

“I honestly don’t believe you understand the seriousness of this offense,” Judge Mark Kerenyi said after sentencing 37-year-old Shanna Gorrell on the third-degree felony charge of tampering with drugs.

In October 2015 Gorrell, of 153 Washington St., was discovered to have removed part of the powder contained inside a capsule of her son’s Ritalin medication for her own use.

The Ritalin was dispensed to the child at his school where officials reported that some of the boy’s medication, which was being sent from home, had apparently been tampered with.

“The nurse said your son came to school several times and did not have enough medication,” Kerenyi said. “By reducing the medication his doctor could believe it was not working. And you were the responsible person, you’re his mother.”

Gorrell said the number of Ritalin capsules sent to school with her son never came up short.

But Washington County Prosecutor Kevin Rings said an investigation of the incident showed capsules had been opened and part of the contents removed.

He noted the school “took the unusual step” of having the medication sent directly to the institution instead of to Gorrell’s home after officials suspected tampering had occurred.

“I feel awful for what I did, but my son’s medication never came up short of pills,” Gorrell told the court. “And I would never harm my kids or anyone else.”

Defense attorney Rolf Baumgartel noted Gorrell has some medical conditions and is taking care of her parents and two children.

He said she has been prescribed medication for her medical issues, but was told Ritalin might also be helpful.

“She took some of the Ritalin out of a capsule to use for herself after someone told her it could help,” Baumgartel said. “It was literally the first time she had done it. And it did not cause any suffering for her son. She did not intend to do anyone harm.”

He noted the case had originally come before Kerenyi’s predecessor, Washington County Common Pleas Judge Ed Lane, who said he would consider a community control sanction for Gorrell of six months or less.

Baumgartel said his client asked Kerenyi for a minimum sentence without jail time so she could continue to care for her parents and children.

“I feel I deserve punishment, but everyone depends on me, and (if I go to jail) no one would be there to take care of them,” Gorrell added.

But Kerenyi sentenced her to 30 days in the county jail, less nine days for time she had already served, and three years of community control. Gorrell was initially found guilty of the felony charge on July 18, 2016.

About the case

¯ Shanna J. Gorrell, 37, of 153 Washington St., Waterford, was sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of community control for a third-degree felony count of tampering with drugs in Washington County Common Pleas Court Thursday.

¯ In October 2015, Gorrell was discovered to have been taking a portion of her child’s Ritalin medication by removing some of the powder from inside the capsules for her own use.

¯ The maximum sentence for a third-degree felony is one to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Source: Washington County Common Pleas Court.