GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — A Green Bay woman has been charged with three counts of child neglect after authorities said her three young children tested positive for cocaine.
According to a criminal complaint, Mercedes Rickert took her one-year-old child to the hospital after she said her child wasn't acting normally as she was putting him to bed - the child appeared to be lethargic and had a glazed look in his eyes.
The hospital called the police to report possible child abuse. The criminal complaint said Rickert was told her child tested positive for cocaine, which surprised her. The complaint said Rickert admitted to previous drug use of cocaine and marijuana, but had been sober for more than four years, since before the birth of her oldest child.
Rickert later admitted to authorities that she had "slipped up " and used cocaine as recently as Friday, May 6. The police officer's testimony in the criminal complaint said that Rickert immediately became very emotional and appeared remorseful about her recent drug use. She remained adamant that her child's exposure could not have possibly been from her, as she used cocaine at a friend's house, and at no point brought drugs into her home.
Authorities conducted drug testing on Rickert's two other children, a three-year-old child and a two-year-old child, who tested positive for cocaine as well. Additionally, child protective services expressed concerns about health complications with the children, potentially stemming from cocaine ingestion.
A Green Bay detective testified in the complaint that the children's grandmother refused to take a drug test when questioned by police at the children's home, even though it’s her home and she’s allowed the children's parents to live there. The complaint said she also refused to let the officer test the counter surfaces with a cocaine wipe. The grandmother cited concerns that the drug testing and cocaine wipe possibly violated her rights.
Sometime later, the criminal complaint says the Green Bay detective wanted to remove the children from the home, citing concerns the grandmother wouldn't take a urine test. CPS stated they would follow up with that and later that day, a CPS worker informed police that the grandmother did in fact test positive for cocaine. The complaint said police will be referring a charge of neglecting a child to her.
Additionally, the criminal complaint said police attempted to drug test the children's father, but it appeared he had brought with him old urine or someone else's urine because it was not consistent with urine that had just come out of a body. CPS advised police they were going to let the father take the drug test again and they would let the police know the results.
Rickert is due in Brown County Court for an initial appearance on June 22. If convicted, she faces a possible maximum sentence of 10-and-a-half years behind bars and $30,000 in potential fines.