BROWNVILLE, Maine — A local woman serving a year in prison after supplying children as young as 11 with alcohol and marijuana and providing one girl with a prescription drug has been sent home to finish her sentence because of the expense associated with her medical care, an official said.
Tanya Donnelly, 38, was convicted by a jury in March 2012 on several charges that stemmed from a birthday party she held for her daughter and the girl’s friends in 2011 at which she supplied marijuana and alcohol.
She was convicted of aggravated unlawful furnishing of a schedule Z drug, aggravated furnishing of marijuana, unlawful furnishing of a schedule Z drug, unlawful furnishing of marijuana, furnishing liquor to a minor, allowing a minor to possess or consume liquor, and endangering the welfare of a child. Donnelly was sentenced to a year in prison on June 1, 2012.
Donnelly had served roughly one month of her one-year sentence, but was r eleased on bail pending the outcome of her appeal, according to her attorney, Joseph Baldacci of Bangor. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld the conviction on April 18, and Donnelly reported to Piscataquis County Jail on April 23.
Less than a month after her appeal was denied, Donnelly was sent home.
“Under Maine statute, she met the requirements for the supervised community confinement program,” Maine Department of Corrections spokesman Scott Fish said on Monday.
Fish would not comment on when Donnelly was released from Maine State Prison or how much her medical expenses cost the state.
“I think the corrections commissioner apparently wanted her out of the jail because she was expensive to keep in jail,” Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said on Monday.
Almy said he and Rep. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, “called the commissioner because there’s going to be an uproar, especially in the Brownville area.”
Donnelly, who requires an oxygen tank, collapsed while in court after her sentencing on June 1, 2012, when she ran out of oxygen. Her attorney for the trial and sentencing, Dale Thistle of Newport, previously said she suffers from myriad medical problems, including pulmonary hypertension, COPD, asthma and fibromyalgia. She has been taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Boston on several occasions, he said.
Donnelly was charged after she held a birthday party for her daughter on March 24, 2011. Six friends of her daughter testified that Donnelly took the girls to the basement of her house, where she smoked marijuana with three of them. The girls were between the ages of 11 and 12 at the time.
The witnesses said that Donnelly bought them Mike’s Hard Lemonade, a malt beverage, from a nearby store and served it to them mixed with Kool-Aid.
After apparently having had too much to drink, according to a witness, one of the girls went to a neighbor’s house, where she wanted to fight another girl who wasn’t at the party.
To calm her down, Donnelly gave her a prescription drug. Witnesses differed on what was given to the girl: Klonopin, an anti-seizure medication, or Clonidine, a medication used to treat high blood pressure and hypertension.
“Since the birthday party, my parents won’t let me go to other birthday parties because they’re afraid it will happen again,” one of the girls said during sentencing on June 1 last year.
Almy said some of the victims’ parents were upset about Donnelly being removed from jail.
“I understand where the commissioner is coming from. There is a significant cost to the state to keep someone like Donnelly in jail. She’s an expensive prisoner,” said Almy. “On the other hand, I think it would’ve been wise to keep her in a little longer than to let her out so quickly because of the nature of the crime committed. It involved several kids in a small community. I can see both sides of this, but I think it would’ve been more wise to keep her in longer.”