Why did Winona Ryder do it?
The judge who, on Friday, sentenced the actress to probation and community service for felony shoplifting said even his 16-year-old son had asked that question. While Ryder has declined to publicly offer a motive for Saksgate, Los Angeles County probation officers have weighed in with their opinions.
The 31-year-old star may be "addicted to pain medication and may possibly be shoplifting to get quick cash in order not to leave a 'paper trail,' " says a report prepared by chief probation officer Richard Shumsky's office. In lieu of that, Ryder may be trying to outwit "a concerned individual [who may be] monitoring [her] spending habits because they may be aware of [her] drug usage," the office says.
Such are the revelations from a 27-page probation report that Ryder's attorney didn't want released. The document, which was made public nonetheless, following sentencing, details how the Girl, Interrupted star obtained 37 prescriptions in three years with a lot of help from her friends: 20 doctors and six personal aliases.
The factoid-filled report notes Ryder's age when she had a tonsillectomy (24) and lists her favorite pharmacy (the Rite-Aid on Sunset Boulevard) and states that she is also partial to a RX-er in "the Valley area of Los Angeles."
In court Friday, defense attorney Mark Geragos conceded that his famed client has a "pain management" problem.
But, according to the probation report, authorities believe Ryder's troubles are not so neatly explained.
Beverly Hills Police Department Det. George Elwell told probation officers that he believed Ryder had a flat-out drug problem. He recommended the actress be ordered to undergo "intervention." "We don't want to find her slumped over in a car with a needle in her arm," Elwell said, per the report.
The probation report also cites a phoned-in tip in which it was claimed that Ryder "has had a heroin problem for the past decade."
While that item was referred to as "hearsay," the report states as fact that from January 1996 to December 1998, the actress "doctor shopped," hitting up 20 MDs, including one under investigation by California authorities for overmedicating patients, many of them reputedly celebs, for a total of nearly 40 prescriptions.
On the day of her December 2001 arrest, officials say Ryder (or, Emily Thompson, as she was known around Rite-Aid) was found in possession of a syringe, a bottle of Aleve filled with Vicoprofen, Vicodin, morphine sulphate and Percodan (but, alas, no Aleve) and a yellow plastic pillbox containing Valium and Percocet.
Despite the portable pharmacy, the report says that Ryder describes herself as a near teetotaler, who drinks alcohol "once in a while" (usually champagne--maybe four times a year) and abstains from illegal non-prescription drugs (she is "terrified of them"). Ryder does concede to having been "around marijuana" as a teenager, the report says.
Ryder's first reported use of a prescription drug dates back to age 19 when she broke up with an unnamed boyfriend and used the tranquilizer Klonopin "to help her sleep." She later switched to Xanax for occasional use because Klonopin was "too much," the report states.
Ryder claims a 2001 movie-set accident, which resulted in a fractured arm, caused her to seek out "a succession" of painkillers and prescription drugs to "alleviate the pain," the report says.
On December 8, 2001, four days before her arrest at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, Ryder told authorities she "reinjured" the arm when a friend grabbed it as they rode a skateboard.
As part of her sentence, Ryder was ordered to undergo drug and psychiatric counseling.
The probation report notes that Ryder had no prior record before the Saks bust. It does, however, note another "hearsay" phone tip, this one alleging that Ryder and "a famous female rock star" once tried on clothes at a fashion show, "and [later] some clothes were unaccounted for and/or missing."
In November, Courtney Love, a famous female rocker herself, told the New York Daily News that Ryder didn't deserve jail time for shoplifting because "she's got [attention deficit disorder] almost as bad as me." Love spoke of previous shopping trips when the two lost track of what had been purchased and what hadn't.
Love is not named in the probation report.
Per her sentence, Ryder is to make her inaugural visit to the probation office on Tuesday. She is due back in court for a progress report on April 7.
The probation office's findings can be found in their entirety on the Smoking Gun Website, which posted excerpts Monday from yet another reputed Ryder-related report--this one about a doctor who had his medical license revoked by California authorities for over-medicating "wealthy and/or famous drug seekers," including, the Website says, Ryder.
Documents show Dr. Jules Lusman, a Santa Monica-based physician specializing in laser hair removal and skin resurfacing, got slapped down by the Medical Board of California on Friday, the same day Ryder was getting slapped down by a judge in Beverly Hills.
Authorities ding Lusman for incompetence in the care of eight patients, including "E.T.," a 29-year-old "well known entertainer," who came to his office for an injured elbow and walked out with a host of prescriptions.
"E.T.," the Website says, is a reference not to Steven Spielberg's waddling alien, but to Ryder, who, other records show, obtained prescriptions under the name Emily Thompson, one of six alter egos assumed by the actress for the purpose of her Rite-Aid raids.
Ryder's publicist's office said Monday it does not know if the actress was a patient of Lusman. An attempt to reach a Dr. Jules Lusman of Santa Monica also was unsuccessful.