Police Say Md. Woman Gave Alcohol to Teens

Lanora A. Lucas purchased vodka for teenagers who are not related to her, police say.
Lanora A. Lucas purchased vodka for teenagers who are not related to her, police say. (AP)
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By Jenna Johnson and Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 12, 2008

Three years ago, Lanora A. Lucas stood before a Frederick County judge and explained why she had let her children ride in the trunk of her Volvo sedan, saying she just wanted to be "a cool mom."

Now Lucas is heading back to court. Police said she bought a bottle of vodka in May for a group of teens who were planning to celebrate the birthday of a 13-year-old girl behind her former elementary school in Thurmont.

Four hours and several rounds of screwdrivers later, parents discovered the teens. A 13-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy were rushed to a hospital with possible alcohol poisoning. Police said the blood-alcohol level of the girl -- they would not say whether she was the birthday girl -- was 0.251, and the boy's was 0.185.

Lucas, who received probation in the 2005 case, was issued two $500 civil citations in the latest incident. She is scheduled to appear in court in November on two criminal charges: reckless endangerment, which is punishable by up to five years in prison, and furnishing alcohol to a minor, which carries a maximum penalty of two years.

Police say the teens -- two 13-year-old girls and three males, ages 14, 16 and 18 -- asked Lucas to meet them in the woods behind the elementary school. Police say she is not related to any of the middle and high school students, and it is unclear how she knew them. The teens say they gave Lucas $20 and waited while she went to a liquor store, police say. Lucas returned with a "large bottle" of vodka and change.

"We all hear about it happening -- adults buying kids alcohol -- but it's not often that we have enough evidence to charge someone," said Lt. Brian Williar, Thurmont's deputy police chief, who added that most cases involve high school upperclassmen, not 13-year-olds.

Efforts to reach Lucas for comment yesterday were unsuccessful. Her attorney in the earlier case involving her children did not respond to a message seeking comment.

In 2005, a Thurmont police officer watched Lucas load her 9-year-old son, his 8-year-old friend and her 3-year-old daughter in the trunk of her Volvo sedan in a shopping mall parking lot and drive away.

At trial, Lucas said the children wanted to ride in the trunk and she allowed them to because "I always wanted my kids to think I was a cool mom."

She was convicted and sentenced to 18 months of probation. Prosecutors charged her with reckless endangerment rather than child abuse because she did not intend to harm the children.

Williar said the latest incident will have no bearing on Lucas's custody of her children because the teens involved were not hers.

"Back in 2005, when they were in the trunk of her car, that was different," he said. "She has done her community service and paid her restitution and learned her lesson for that. . . . And as far as I know, there are no allegations that there are problems in her home."

The latest charges had drawn little public notice in Thurmont, a town of about 6,000 near the Pennsylvania border, until a local paper published an article about it yesterday.

Beth Linker, 38, a mother of three, said: "It's not one of those places where everybody knows everybody, but family's big up here.

"I just think it's really wrong to do that to children. Our role is to be providers and caretakers and to be good role models."

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