MADISON — A New York City woman accused of mailing abortion-inducing pills to addresses in Portage and Wisconsin Rapids pleaded not guilty Thursday in federal court to misbranding a prescription drug.
A federal prosecutor had no information Thursday on whether the abortion pill mailed to a Portage address was consumed, but a Wisconsin Rapids-area man allegedly put the pill in his pregnant girlfriend’s drink in an attempt to secretly induce an abortion.
Ursula Wing, 41, was arraigned Thursday on charges of misbranding a prescription drug and conspiracy to defraud the U.S.
According to the indictment issued June 26:
Wing ran an illegal prescription drug operation fronted as an online fake jewelry business.
She imported Mifepristone and Misoprostol from India. Mifepristone is an abortion-inducing drug the Food and Drug Administration has not approved for distribution. Misoprostol is a treatment for stomach ulcers. They are sold together in medication abortion kits.
Mifepristone only can be prescribed by a licensed physician, be dispensed by a licensed pharmacy and administrated in a health care facility under supervision of a licensed physician.
Prosecutors say Wing had none of the required credentials.
She imported the drugs in bulk and offered it through her Macrobiotic Stoner website where she sold costumed jewelry. A page titled “My Secret Bodega” sold the medication abortion kits in various quantities.
Wing packaged the drugs tucked inside a necklace. The shipping invoice didn’t accurately indicate the package’s contents.
Clients paid for the drug with credit cards with the sales showing up on Wing’s account as jewelry.
Wing is accused of mailing misbranded drugs on Jan. 27, 2018, to a Portage address, and on Jan. 30, 2018, to a Wisconsin Rapids address.
The indictment further alleges that Wing sent misbranded prescription drugs to locations in the U.S. and other countries between June 2016 and June 21, 2018.
Under federal law, misbranding a prescription medication occurs when it is labeled in a false or misleading way, when it does not offer usage directions or is dispensed without a valid prescription.
After court, Graber said misbranded drug cases have been brought in the Western District of Wisconsin before but not for Mifepristone.
“This is a tightly, tightly regulated medication, and she didn’t follow the regulations,” he said.
Although Wing pleaded not guilty to misbranding and conspiring to defraud the U.S., her attorney, federal defender Peter Moyers, told Magistrate Stephen Crocker he expected the case to be resolved “well short of trial,” which is set for Dec. 9.
After court, Graber said he interpreted that to mean Wing would seek some type of plea deal.
Maximum penalties are five years for a conviction on the conspiracy charge and three years for misbranding.
Wing, a website developer, admitted in an interview published this spring in “Mother Jones News” to selling Mifepristone without consultation or prescription. Wing would mail Mifepristone and Misoprostol to fill orders she received online.
According to the Mother Jones article:
“Now a single mother, Wing terminated her own pregnancy in 2012 using the drug combination. She started the online drug business to pay for an expensive child custody lawsuit.
“She didn’t think of herself as an activist in the underground movement to counter the decreased access to abortion services. However, since 2016, she has shipped more than 2,000 medication abortion kits at $85 each with expedited shipping.”
Crocker released Wing on standard conditions until trial.
The kit Wing allegedly shipped to Jeffrey Smith, 34, of Grand Rapids, resulted in him being charged in Marathon County Circuit Court with attempted first-degree intentional homicide of an unborn child and a drug delivery offense.
According to published accounts:
Smith was opposed to having a child with his girlfriend after learning last fall that she was pregnant. Smith texted the woman that an abortion would be easy and she just had to take a pill.
Smith was at the woman’s home in January when she left him alone with her bottled water. After returning, Smith said she noticed some white residue in the bottom of the bottle before she drank the water.
The bottle tested positive for Mifepristone and Misoprostol.
Smith’s trial is set for Nov. 12.