John Andrew Welden, 28, pleaded guilty Monday on charges stemming from a case where he admitted to slipping his ex-girlfriend an abortion drug.
The Tampa Bay Times reported
that Welden was charged with product tampering and mail fraud in federal court and will be sentenced Dec. 5.
U.S. District Judge Richard A. Lazzara told Welden he could be sentenced to more than the 13 years and eight months in prison if he accepted the plea deal. The Tampa Bay Times reported that Welden admitted to forcing the signature of his father, who is a gynecologist, for a prescription for Cytotec, a drug that causes contractions.
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Former girlfriend Remee Jo Lee lost an embryo of nearly seven weeks after being duped into taking the drug by Welden, the Times reported.
"As you all know, John Andrew Welden is now a convicted felon," Lee's attorney Gil Sanchez told reporters during a news conference after the plea hearing.
Lee stood with Sanchez and family members, but did not speak at the news conference, the Tampa Bay Times noted.
"Nothing is ever going to bring back what was taken from her," Sanchez said according to the Times. Sanchez had reportedly prepared a civil lawsuit against Welden in May but held off on filing it until the conclusion of the federal case.
Sanchez said his client will decide "in the following days" whether to move on with the civil lawsuit.
Welden could have reportedly received a mandatory life sentence under the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act." Facing that possibility, Welden agreed to waive his right to a trial and make a plea deal, the Tampa Tribune reported
"Nobody wants to go to prison for 13 years and 8 months," Welden’s lawyer, Todd Foster, told reporters after the hearing. "The possibility of a mandatory life in prison sentence with no discretion to the judge obviously is a big factor."
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The plea agreement requires Welden to cooperate with prosecutors, but noted that he won’t get any additional sentence reduction because of it, the Tribune reported.
Foster told Lazzara during the plea hearing he has not decided yet what evidence he will present at the sentencing, although he does expect family members and character witnesses to speak on behalf of Welden, the Tribune noted.
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