DOCUMENT: Florida, Stupid, Crime

Cops: Bride, Caterer Spiked Food With Pot

"Numerous guests" fell ill at Florida wedding reception

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APRIL 20--A Florida bride and a caterer are facing felony charges for allegedly adding marijuana to food served to wedding guests, many of whom fell ill after unknowingly ingesting the cannabis-laced dishes served at a February reception.

According to police, “numerous guests” were treated “for symptoms consistent with that of someone who had used illegal drugs.” The victims were stricken in the clubhouse of a private gated community in Longwood, a city 15 miles north of Orlando.

Newlywed Danya Svoboda, 42, and caterer Joycelyn Bryant, 31, have been hit with negligence, tampering, and drug charges for allegedly spiking food served at the February 19 reception, which was attended by about 50 guests.

As alleged in an arrest warrant affidavit, victims became ill after consuming pasta, salad, and an olive oil and herb dip. Several guests were treated at a local hospital, where tests revealed THC in their systems.

One guest told cops he felt “ill and high” and was “having crazy thoughts” as his heart raced. Another victim said he told the best man that he “felt like he had been drugged,” but that the best man “was incoherent and could not answer a question.”

Guest Nancy Postma, 69, whose nephew married Svoboda, told cops that she had “no control over her mind and body” and that “her mind was playing strange things in her head.” Postma said she was “paranoid” and became “loud and unruly” in the emergency room of a hospital where she tested positive for THC.

Postma told investigators that as guests fell ill, a catering staffer said that she thought it “was common knowledge that cannabis was in the food.”

Miranda Cady, a friend of Svoboda’s, recalled asking Bryant if there was marijuana in the food. In response, Bryant “giggled and shook her head yes,” according to the arrest affidavit. Cady said she confronted Svoboda on the dance floor and that the bride admitted that marijuana had been added to the olive oil. Svoboda, Cady said, acted like guests “should be excited,” as if they “were given a gift.”

Cady, 38, recalled being “stoned” and “terrified” that her heart would stop beating. Fearful that she would die, Cady said that she sent a text to herself “so that someone would know what happened to her.”

Guest Rachel Penn told police that she texted Svoboda while sitting in the hospital the night of the reception and asked, “What is happening, what was I given?” Svoboda replied, “Uggg, we have no idea, let us know if you need help with anything.” In a subsequent phone conversation, Penn recalled, Svoboda said she was “facing felony charges and was really sorry, but she had retained an attorney and couldn’t talk about what happened.”

Asked if he was aware that cannabis-laced food was being served to his friends and family, groom Andrew Svoboda, 42, reportedly stared at a sheriff’s deputy “with a blank expression” before “stuttering through a ‘no.’”

Danya Svoboda and Bryant--who are free on bond following their arrest Monday--have been charged with a pair of felonies and a one misdemeanor count. The duo is scheduled for arraignment on June 7.

Bryant, who operates Joycelyn’s Southern Kitchen, is described as a “Holistic Chef” on the firm’s website, which boasts of creating “high-quality, transformative dining experiences designed to elevate the bodies and atmospheres of all who partake.” (12 pages)