Ex-prosecutor enters rehab
A former state prosecutor serving a year of probation has been ordered to continue treatment at a rehab facility after he was thrown in jail for drinking alcohol and violating his sentence.
Collier Circuit Judge Frank Baker extended probation another year, to March, for Richard D. VandenBerg, who was terminated from his job at the State Attorney’s Office in Naples last year, just days before his arrest on cyberstalking charges involving his estranged wife and another man.
Baker also ordered VandenBerg to return to the Willough at Naples for treatment, avoid alcohol, wear an alcohol monitoring device for 60 days, and undergo random Breathalyzer and urinalysis tests.
VandenBerg, represented by defense attorney Shannon McFee, admitted violating probation, and the judge agreed to withhold an adjudication of guilt, as a judge did in March, when sentencing VandenBerg as part of a plea bargain to a reduced charge of stalking, a misdemeanor, and obstruction.
If he successfully completes his sentence, he won’t have criminal convictions. Otherwise, he’d faced five years in a state prison.
VandenBerg was arrested on May 9, 2008, after making repeated phone calls to estranged wife, Renee, and a man he suspected of having an affair with her. At the time, McFee blamed VandenBerg’s problems on alcohol, while his divorce attorney, Tom Grogan, said the couple was having severe financial difficulties that prompted VandenBerg to file for divorce a month earlier.
VandenBerg, a misdemeanor prosecutor, was terminated after not showing up for work for several days and declining to remedy the problem.
Days later, on May 4, Collier County Sheriff’s reports say, he began leaving repeated voicemails on a cellphone belonging to a man he’d seen accompany his wife to his home to gather her belongings, a man he blamed for his termination. The man, a Realtor, led a Bible study group that he attended.
VandenBerg threatened to ruin his business, marriage, and church, and discussed guns and using a machete to cut off the man’s body parts.
On May 6, 2008, deputies in fatigues surrounded his home and he was arrested after resisting. The gun enthusiast was ordered to turn over all guns, but posted $15,000 bond a week later after a judge agreed to his release if he entered The Willoughs.