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Utah woman pleads guilty to buying biological agent online

August 25, 2020 GMT

HOLLADAY, Utah (AP) — A Utah woman has pleaded guilty to multiple charges after police say she bought a biological agent online to harm her former roommate.

Janie Lynn Ridd was arrested in December 2019 on suspicion of aggravated abuse of a vulnerable adult, attempted abuse of a vulnerable adult, and attempted possession of a biological agent, KUTV-TV reported.

Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Nick Street previously said Ridd gave misleading statements before she was arrested.

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Police said Ridd bought Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus for $300 worth of Bitcoin. The agent can cause skin infections, severe invasive diseases, pneumonia and potentially death.

The Utah Department of Public Safety said Ridd had purchased enough to affect one person and had never represented a threat to the public or had plans to target large groups of people.

Utah law defines a biological agent of mass destruction as “any microorganism, virus, infectious substance, or biological product” that can cause death, disease or destruction in a human or other living organism.

The Associated Press has reached out to defense attorney Scott Williams and did not immediately hear back.

Attorney General Sean Reyes and Assistant Attorney General Michael Gadd recommended Monday that Ridd be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison without parole until 2028, court officials said.