A Tucson woman pleaded guilty Monday to felony charges of child abuse and fraudulent schemes, after she told police earlier this year that she tampered with baby formula in a scheme to make money, officials said.
Jennifer LaPlante accepted a plea agreement, with prosecutors dismissing six counts of the indictment, including drug possession and three counts of fraudulent schemes, said Deputy Pima County Attorney Daniel South.
LaPlante was arrested in May, after a 2-month-old baby was taken to a hospital after becoming lethargic, according to Tucson Police Department documents.
The baby had recently been given a bottle of Gerber Soy formula that “had a strong chemical smell,” the infant’s parents told police.
The investigation revealed that the formula the baby ate was bought from a Fry’s store on Tucson’s east side and after talking to employees, police learned that the specific container had previously been returned by LaPlante, who was responsible for several other formula returns, police documents show.
When detectives interviewed LaPlante, she admitted that she returned the formula — which costs about $17 — after replacing the contents with a mixture of flour, sugar and rice cereal and securing the lid back on with a “strong smelling adhesive,” according to the documents.
Police learned that she returned tampered cans to at least four stores around town, mainly on the east side.
LaPlante is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Casey McGinley.