Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Judge: Abortion pill defendant can be released if under guard

TAMPA — John Andrew Welden may be released from jail before his federal trial, but only if he pays for a private security detail to keep him at home, a judge ordered Monday.

Welden, 28, is considered a flight risk because he faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted of intentionally causing the death of former girlfriend Remee Jo Lee's unborn child.

"Any combination of conditions imposed by the court must include the condition that the defendant be placed in the custody of a trained security detail," Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli wrote.

In a seven-page order, the judge used the phrase "security detail" five times, and he ordered parties to appear before him July 1 to discuss the feasibility of such a plan. Welden remains in the Pinellas County jail, where he was booked May 15.

Porcelli would also require home confinement with GPS tracking and a bond of $250,000 secured by property.

Private security can cost $50 to $70 per hour per officer, or at least $36,000 per month, said lawyer Peter A. Sartes of the Law Offices of Tragos & Sartes.

"It can be extremely expensive. If you're not wealthy, it's tantamount to no bail," he said.

Some judges want two officers on duty at a time. Sartes recalls that was the case when his firm represented Charles Jackson Friedlander, a Fort Myers mental health counselor convicted at 78 of trying to solicit children for sex.

Guarded house arrest has previously sprung reggae star Buju Banton (now in prison on a cocaine conviction), financier Bernie Madoff (also in prison, fraud) and International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn (U.S. sex charge dropped).

No public accounting has been offered of Welden's assets. He drives a 2007 Pontiac and has $80 in his jail canteen account, but he is represented by three privately paid attorneys.

His father is an obstetrician-gynecologist with a fertility practice in Lutz, and the family operates weight-loss clinics.

Defense attorney Todd Foster said at a hearing last week that the Weldens would look into private security if the judge desired.

At that hearing, Porcelli heard other proposals, too.

The Weldens were willing to secure bond with properties valued at $500,000, Foster said. More than 20 supporters pledged to co-sign a $200,000 personal surety bond. Foster suggested putting Welden in the custody of his father and stepmother.

The judge called those measures "significant and sizable," but not enough, noting that Welden would suffer no personal financial hardship if he fled.

It would be difficult for parents to act as custodians, Porcelli said, "given their understandable and unconditional love for their son." He brought up a recorded jail conversation in which Welden's stepmother suggested a way to shield his Pontiac from victim Lee's pending civil suit.

Porcelli called the risk of flight "overwhelming," even when considering a defense expert's opinion that the single pill Lee took could not have stopped the heart of her nearly 7-week-old embryo. Welden is accused of giving her the abortion drug Cytotec, disguised as an antibiotic, earlier this year.

If the government can't prove the cause of death, Welden's prior statements still leave him vulnerable to "significant penalties" for attempting to kill the unborn child, Porcelli wrote.

Welden, the judge wrote, has admitted to "inexplicable, deplorable and deceitful acts."

Along with being a flight risk, he may be a possible threat to Lee, Porcelli wrote.

Private security, he said, would answer both concerns.

News researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Patty Ryan can be reached at pryan@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3382.

Judge: Abortion pill defendant can be released if under guard 06/24/13 [Last modified: Monday, June 24, 2013 11:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Shakeup on Adam Putnam campaign

    Blogs

    In a sign of unsteadiness for what  had  looked like a strong-out-of-the-gate Adam Putnam campaign, the Republican frontrunner suddenly fired his campaign manager and political director. Hard-charging Campaign manager Kristin Davis and political director Jared Small were two of the three outsiders to join …

    Putnam campaigning in Destin the other day as part of his 22-city bus tour
  2. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  3. Tampa man arrested for killing man in his USF-area home

    Crime

    TAMPA — A Tampa man was arrested Monday in the death of man found killed at a home in the University of South Florida area last week, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Kadeem Dareem Archibald, 26, was arrested Monday on a  second degree murder charge in the University Area killing of Khando Kerr. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Report: Trump asked intel chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence

    National

    President Donald Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, the Washington Post reports, citing current and former officials.

    From  left, CIA Director Mike Pompeo; Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers take their seats on Capitol Hill on May 11 before  testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on major threats facing the U.S. [Associated Press]
  5. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”