ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - A Florida man who admitted to tricking his pregnant girlfriend into taking pills known to cause abortion has been ordered to serve more than 13 years in federal prison and to pay her about $28,500 in restitution, U.S. prosecutors said.
John Andrew Welden, 29, was sentenced on Monday after pleading guilty in September to charges of tampering with a consumer product resulting in bodily injury and conspiracy to commit mail fraud.
As part of a plea agreement, Welden admitted that he gave the pills to his girlfriend, Remee Jo Lee, in March 2013 to kill her unborn baby. Lee said he had forged the signature of his father, an obstetrician, on a prescription and conspired with a pharmacy employee to order Cytotec, which can induce abortions.
Cytotec, known generically as misoprostol, is prescribed to prevent stomach ulcers and carries a warning that it should not be used during pregnancy because it can cause abortion, birth defects and premature death.
Welden scratched off identifying markings on the pills and then placed them in a bottle with a label provided by the unnamed pharmacy co-conspirator indicating the contents were amoxicillin, an antibiotic, prescribed for his girlfriend, according to court documents.
After taking what she believed to be the antibiotic, Lee began experiencing severe cramping and bleeding, and she subsequently suffered a miscarriage.
Lee and Welden met in 2012 at a “gentlemen’s club” where she worked. Police investigators found text messages between the two showing Lee wanted to keep the baby but Welden did not.
Welden’s prison sentence consists of 10 years for the consumer product tampering charge and 44 months for mail fraud.
U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzara in Tampa also sentenced Welden to serve three years of supervised release after his prison term.
Lee has sued the pharmacy where she said the drug, prescription bottle and a faked label were obtained.
Editing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Leslie Adler