News

Maryland Man Sent to Federal Prison for Tampering with Infant Formula

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 27, 2008

BALTIMORE, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis sentenced Bobby Wayne Rhoades age 29, of North East, Maryland to 41 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for tampering with infant formula, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.

“Bobby Wayne Rhoades jeopardized the life of an innocent child for $22.78,” said United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Thanks to the store’s video surveillance camera and the work of FDA investigators and state authorities, he will be held accountable.”

According to his plea agreement presented to the court today, on January 4, 2006 the father of an infant residing in Rising Sun, Maryland purchased a container of powdered baby formula from a store in North East, Maryland. According to the father, he and his wife attempted to feed some of the formula to their infant child. The infant was reluctant to drink any of the formula, but after finally consuming some, immediately vomited the formula. The mother of the infant then taste-tested the powder and found that it did not taste normal.

The parents contacted the manufacturer of the baby formula. In discussing the matter with an employee of the manufacturer while handling the product, the label of the product fell away, and a hole was discovered in the container that had been taped over and concealed under the label. The container of baby formula was eventually given to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) forensic chemistry center, which analyzed the contents and determined that the container did not contain powdered baby formula, but instead, flour and salt. According to FDA specialists, certain amounts of salt can, when ingested by an infant, cause illness and even a substantial risk of death.

Special agents of the FDA then contacted the store where the container had been originally purchased. In reviewing the store’s digital video recordings and business records, investigators learned that on January 1, 2006, a man had purchased a container of powdered baby formula along with several other infant care items at the store. Later that same day, the baby formula container was returned to the store by a different man, later identified as the defendant. In returning the formula, Rhoades identified himself as John Gray, and received $22.78. That container of baby formula was later re-shelved by store employees, and repurchased on January 4, 2006 by the infant’s father.

Rhoades was arrested on February 14, 2006. He later admitted returning the tainted baby formula to the store and splitting the money from the return with one of his brothers, and using an alias to return the tainted formula.

U.S. Attorney Rosenstein praised the FDA - Office of Criminal Investigation, the Maryland State Police and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, for their investigation and thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip S. Jackson, who prosecuted the case.

 

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