Mom’s baby formula scheme leaves one child hospitalized

ARIZONA — A Tucson woman has been arrested for tampering with containers of baby formula and returning them for fast cash, according to authorities.

Officials have accused 30-year-old Jennifer Laplante of stealing or buying Gerber Good Start Soy Formula and replacing it with sugar, rice cereal, and flour, according to the complaint.

Laplante also used a “strong smelling adhesive” to re-seal the opened containers.

Investigators are currently conducting tests to determine if she put other substances into the formula containers, said Dr. Francisco Garcia, chief medical officer for Pima County.

According to the report, the woman was motivated by money and it is believed she carried out the scheme for possibly up to two months.

So far, police have released the names of two Fry’s grocery stores and two Wal-Mart stores located on the east side of Tucson, which been linked to the incident.

Officials at Arkansas-based Wal-Mart said they don’t restock baby formula and are “deeply disturbed” by the Tucson incident.

405A5F3E00000578-0-image-a-27_1494867568754Authorities were alerted after a Tucson police’s Child Physical Abuse Unit received several reports about a baby that possibly consumed contaminated formula.

A two-month-old infant was reportedly admitted to Tucson Medical Center on May 5 after ingesting the tainted formula and appearing lethargic. The child has since been released and remains in good condition.

LaPlante was arrested Thursday under suspicion of fraudulent schemes and child endangerment.

On Friday, a police department spokesman claimed there have not been additional reports of tampered formula, though investigators are still searching for others possibly involved and if other stores have been affected.

Police issued a warning for parents to be on high alert for baby formula containers’ with seals that could show evidence of tampering.

“We’re concerned about this and wanted to get the information out as quickly as possible to avoid any other children from becoming sick,” Magnus said.

 

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