Tampa, FL — John Andrew Welden pleaded guilty to federal charges of tampering and mail fraud Monday, admitting in court that he tricked his pregnant ex-girlfriend into taking an abortion pill.
US District Judge Richard A. Lazzara warned the 28-year-old that he could be sentenced to more than the 13 years and eight months in prison recommended by both the prosecution and the defense. If Lazzara adopts the sentence and Welden earns time for good behavior, he could be released before he turns 40.
“Nobody feels good about pleading guilty,” defense attorney Todd Foster said. “But he recognizes what’s happened and he’s taken responsibility for what occurred and I think he’s comfortable with that.”
Welden’s plea deal referenced an unidentified co-conspirator at a pharmacy in Lutz, Florida. While no further charges have been announced, Welden is bound by his plea agreement to assist in any investigation.
Welden, whose father is a practicing OB/GYN, was indicted in May on charges of product tampering and first-degree murder, and faced up to life in prison if convicted on the latter charge. He admitted that he forged his father’s signature on a prescription for Cytotec, or misoprostol, a drug used to induce labor. He relabeled the bottle as the antibiotic amoxicillin and gave it to 26-year-old Remee Lee, who was six weeks and five days pregnant.
The former couple met in mid-2012 and began dating. They broke up briefly but got back together long enough for Lee to become pregnant in February. Lee wanted the baby, but Welden didn’t and tried to persuade her to get an abortion. Lee said she would raise the child without his help.
Lee went to Dr. Stephen Welden’s office for an exam in late March, and was told she had a bacterial infection. Dr. Welden prescribed amoxicillin to treat it. John Andrew Welden then forged his father’s signature on a prescription for Cytotec and gave it Lee, telling her to take three pills a day. Lee took one pill and began to bleed at work the next day. She was rushed to the hospital, where she found out that she had been given a pill used in medically induced abortions.
John Andrew Welden is scheduled to be sentenced December 5.