JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Former U.S. figure skating champion Nicole Bobek probably got mixed up with the wrong crowd, the skater's mother said Wednesday, two days after her 31-year-old daughter was released from jail on a drug distribution charge stemming from an investigation that has netted 20 arrests so far.
Jana Bobek said her daughter liked to party and may be in trouble because of the company she keeps.
"If she is in some kind of trouble, she is probably in some trouble because she got in with the wrong company. I do strongly believe she would never do anything criminal," Jana Bobek told The Associated Press.
"Did she party? Probably, yes," Bobek's mother said. "I know she's a wonderful person and she has a very good heart and a lot of time that's been taken advantage of."
Nicole Bobek, who has homes in New York City and Jupiter, Fla., has been charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Hudson and other North Jersey counties. She was arrested in Florida last week and extradited to New Jersey.
So far, 20 people, including Bobek, have been arrested in connection with the drug ring. An investigation is ongoing.
Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio called Bobek a "significant player" in the ring who was involved for at least a number of months. According to police, the network distributed $10,000 worth of methamphetamine per week.
"This is not a situation where she was buying drugs to pass it on to another associate," he added.
Bobek made her first court appearance Monday by video from the Hudson County Jail and posted bail later that night after it was reduced from $200,000 to $100,000 cash or bond.
Neither she nor her attorney, Sam DeLuca, returned calls Wednesday.
If convicted of the drug charges, she faces up to 10 years in prison.
"It's very upsetting to me," said Jana Bobek, who secured her daughter's bond. "She's my only child."
Bobek won the women's U.S. figure skating title in 1995, but never really lived up to her advance notice. She often changed coaches, and when she found one with whom she was comfortable in Carlo Fassi, he died a few months later.
She put her career together in 1998 to qualify for the Olympic team, and seemed a solid contender for a bronze medal at Nagano. Instead, she crashed her way to 17th place.
Injuries and lack of training slowed her since then and she didn't skate in the next two American championships.
In 2000, she turned professional, signing a four-year contract with the Tom Collins Champions on Ice tour.
In 2006, she made her acting debut playing the love interest of actor Sean Penn in the remake of the classic film "All The King's Men."
At the time, she said she would enjoy more acting assignments.
"Skating has slowed down for me. You need to find some inspiration after 25 years of it," she said. "What can I do now?"