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From First Degree Murder to Mail Fraud

A 27 year old woman lost her unborn child when boyfriend John Andrew Welden gave her a fraudulent prescription for a drug called Cytotec. A drug commonly used to prevent ulcers is also used, in combination with another drug, to terminate pregnancies. Welden was first charged with first-degree murder of the unborn child under the 2004 Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Since then, that charge has been dropped and replaced with mail fraud.

Remee Jo Lee, a 27 year old woman, had been dating John Andrew Welden when she found out she was pregnant in 2013. When Welden found out about the pregnancy, he went into panic mode. Welden reached out to an unnamed employee at Sunlake Pharmacy to help with his panic. The unnamed employee created a fraudulent patient profile for Remee Jo Lee and gave Welden an empty pill bottle and a prescription label with Lee's name on it. The unnamed employee was simultaneously in the process of filling a prescription for the drug Cytotec for Welden. Cytotec is a medication that is used to prevent stomach ulcers, but can also be used to end a pregnancy, when combined with another drug called mifepristone.

Welden picked up the forged prescription on March 29 and then scratched the labels off the pills before adding the name of a common antibiotic and giving them to Lee. She took the pills around 4p.m. and began to feel severe pain and cramps. Shortly Within two days of taking the pill, Lee went to Tampa General Hospital. She was told the 7-week unborn child was dead. Months later, after filing numerous concerns with local law enforcement, Welden was charged with first-degree murder and product tampering.

In September 2013, prosecutors reduced Welden's charges by dropping murder and adding mail fraud. Mail fraud is intentionally planning, creating or carrying out a scheme to defraud others using the U.S. mail or private carriers during any part of the crime. The pills Welden gave to Lee had arrived by Federal Express after the pharmacy employee ordered them from a Michigan company.

Welden agreed to a plea deal in September and now faces his sentencing. A judge does not have to abide by the specifics of a plea deal. However, the government and the defense are requesting Welden receive 13 years and 8 months at a low-security federal prison camp. A man, scared to father a child with a woman he did not plan to marry, once faced a mandatory life sentence; now he faces no more than 15 years. His fate now rests in the judge's hands.

Source: Tampa Bay Times Forum

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