Troubles mount for accused Los Gatos party mom

Troubles continue to mount for the Los Gatos “party mom” accused of orchestrating drunken parties for her teen son and his friends in a bizarre case that stunned the community and made national headlines.

Shannon O’Connor, 48 — who has been jailed since her October 2021 arrest after losing appeals to allow bail — is apparently struggling to pay her legal bills and getting divorced, all while battling another felony charge.

On Monday, Connor — who has pleaded not guilty — was expected to get her first crack at challenging the evidence against her in a 39-count criminal complaint that accuses her of holding parties where teenagers were dangerously intoxicated and girls sexually abused. But witness scheduling issues have forced the case to be delayed to March 6, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

Now her tech executive husband, with whom she shares a teenage son, and whom prosecutors said she kept in the dark about the parties, apparently has had enough. He filed papers Jan. 12 to end their 14-year marriage. And in family court filings, O’Connor has indicated she’s struggling to pay legal bills even though the couple sold their spacious Los Gatos home on Arroyo Del Rancho for $4.6 million in December 2021.

Shannon O’Connor, aka Shannon Bruga, has been charged with child endangerment and sexual battery related to allegations she repeatedly furnished her son and other teens with alcohol for raucous parties at her Los Gatos home, and is now suspected of doing the same at her other homes in Idaho. (Ada County Sheriff’s Office) 

To add to her legal woes, she is expected to enter a plea Feb. 15 in a separate felony complaint — filed the same day as the teen party case — accusing her of grand theft for allegedly ringing up $120,000 in unauthorized charges to an employer’s company credit card.

In the party case, prosecutors allege O’Connor ingratiated herself with her son’s high school friends, communicating with them through social media to orchestrate parties with him from June 2020 to May 2021 in which she provided liquor and encouraged them to have sex. Prosecutors alleged several teens passed out and vomited from intoxication, and that the sex wasn’t always consensual. O’Connor would allegedly arrange to pick up the teens late at night without their parents’ knowledge, and followed one girl in her car suspected of not keeping her plans secret.

O’Connor’s first husband, the father of the older son for whom she is accused of playing party planner, wrote the prosecutor in the party case Jan. 17, saying O’Connor and her family court lawyer “have weaponized the family court against me to get money from me so Shannon can pay her criminal legal bills.”

She scored one legal victory, however, after a family court judge granted her request for supervised phone calls with their son. As one of the 15 alleged teen victims in the party case, the boy was subject to a court order prohibiting her from contacting him. The former husband and their son are not being named because the boy, now 17, is still a juvenile and alleged crime victim, while his mother is being identified by her maiden name.

Prosecutors indicated in court that in a recorded phone call on the day after O’Connor’s arrest, she told her son not to cooperate with the investigation or to “give anyone passwords to anything.”

“I must acknowledge that I have been previously reprimanded for the content of my telephone calls” with the son “early in the criminal case, and I have learned from that,” O’Connor said in a November court declaration seeking permission to speak with him again. “I assure the court that I will not raise any issue of litigation currently pending against me in criminal court.”

She added that “while I acknowledge that I have been alleged to have committed certain crimes in Santa Clara County, California, I have not been found guilty to date on the charges filed against me.”

The District Attorney’s Office said the issues raised in civil family court “are superfluous to the matters we are handling in criminal court” but declined further comment on the case. O’Connor’s lawyer in the party case also has declined to comment.

O’Connor’s first marriage ended in 2007, and she remarried a little over a year later. In court filings, she accused her first husband of failing to provide child support and medical coverage and refusing to spend time with their boy according to their custody plan.

She’s asked the family court to make her first husband pay $265,000 in alleged unpaid support, medical costs for their son and legal expenses.

Her first husband has countered in court filings last month that she should pay to cover his current and future legal costs involving custody of their son, arguing her current husband has been supporting her by paying her legal fees and “giving her a luxury jail allowance of $1,000 per month.”

The ex’s filings suggest O’Connor and her estranged husband may be trying to shield assets, claiming “jail phone calls show she conspired with her current husband ‘to come up with a plan to hide her finances.’”

The first husband, who accuses her of alienating their son from him, said he is current on support payments but that O’Connor has failed to put them in a separate account for the boy as called for in a court agreement.

“Undoubtedly,” the first husband wrote in a court declaration opposing her requests for payments from him, “these funds will go directly to mother’s criminal defense fund,” which he said could deprive their son “of the justice he needs and deserves.”

A family law court conference on the case is scheduled March 22. Parents of the teen victims, meanwhile, await their own day in court.

“I just wanted this to go to trial,” said the mother of one of the alleged teen victim girls, “and for her to go to jail for a long time.”