- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 16, 2006

BALTIMORE — A man charged with tampering with infant formula blamed his “idiot brother” when he was arrested, court records show.

Bobby Wayne Rhoades, 27, is accused of returning a container of infant formula to a Wal-Mart that was filled with flour and salt instead of its original contents.

The container later was repurchased by the father of a child who vomited after being fed the flour-and-salt mixture.

Yesterday afternoon, a judge denied bail for Mr. Rhoades.

At the detention hearing in U.S. District Court, prosecutors said Mr. Rhoades had an extensive arrest record and a history of abusing drugs, including heroin.

Defense attorneys asked that Mr. Rhoades be allowed to enter an inpatient drug-treatment facility.

Prosecutor Philip Jackson said that Mr. Rhoades had been arrested 16 times and that he was “probably motivated by the need or desire to get heroin” when he returned the container, for which court records show he received $22.78.

Mr. Jackson said Mr. Rhoades admitted when he was arrested that he had used heroin recently.

Michael Widenhouse, a special agent with the Food and Drug Administration, testified in an affidavit that after Mr. Rhoades was read his rights, but before he could be questioned, Mr. Rhoades “exclaimed that his arrest must be in relation to his ‘idiot brother’s infant formula.’”

Police reviewed security videotapes in the Wal-Mart that showed a man bought the formula Jan. 1.

Later that same day, the formula was returned to the store by a different man, later identified as Mr. Rhoades, prosecutors said.

Mr. Rhoades later admitted returning the container of Enfamil to the Wal-Mart store in North East and split the $22.78 with one of his brothers. He could not explain why he used the alias John Gray when he returned the formula, according to the affidavit.

The container was repurchased Jan. 4. The child who was fed the formula suffered no other ill effects, said Marcy Murphy, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Miss Murphy said she could not comment on whether other charges were planned in the case.

Mr. Rhoades, of North East in Cecil County, was arrested Tuesday at the Maryland Manor Hotel on Route 40 near North East and charged with tampering with consumer products.

He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Linda Blakely said company officials “cooperated fully with law-enforcement officials. It’s a law-enforcement matter now.”

Miss Blakely said she was not aware of what steps had been taken to ensure that other containers of infant formula in the store were not tampered with.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s forensic chemistry center analyzed the contents and determined that it held flour and salt instead of formula.

Feeding too much salt to an infant can be deadly.

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