This woman might just be public enemy number one for babies out there. She’s a 30-year-old Arizona resident, who is now charged with child endangerment and fraudulent schemes and artifices. She allegedly swapped infant formula for flour and returned it back to the store for a profit.
The suspect, Jennifer Laplante allegedly bought or stole baby formulas from stores, then replaced its contents with flour and returned it to the stores for a refund. Authorities suggest that she used Gerber “Good Start” Formula for the crime. On May 5th, a child was released from the hospital after becoming ill from ingesting tampered formula.
Police apprehended Laplante on Thursday, May 11th, on suspicion of fraudulent schemes and artifices and child endangerment.
Police Chief Chris Magnus warned the public of the tampered baby formula during a nighttime news conference. “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.
Dr. Francisco Garcia, chief medical officer for Pima County, said that further test are being conducted to determine whether the tampered formula contained any other substances besides flour.
Authorities have pin-pointed two Fry’s grocery stores and two Wal-Mart stores as being linked to the incident. All of these stores are located on the east-side of Tucson, Arizona.
Officials at an Arkansas-based Wal-Mart were “deeply disturbed” by the baby formula incident in Tucson. “Our customers deserve safe, quality foods, and we have policies in place to help ensure that returned baby formula is not put back on our shelves,” Wal-Mart spokesman Ragan Dickens said in a statement.
A police department spokesman, Sgt. Pete Dugan, said Friday that so far that he hasn’t heard of any more tampered formula. However, detectives are still digging into the story, as they are “smack-dab in the middle of the investigation,” Dugan said. “They need to find out if there’s others involved. They need to find out if there’s other stores involved.”
Dr. Francisco Garcia said that parents shouldn’t feed their babies any formula if there is any question of possible tampering. “Those seals should be intact,” said Garcia.
Meanwhile, officials have advised recent purchasers of baby formula from Tuscon business to check the seals or containers to determine whether or not that item was tampered with.