|Richard Baumgartner leaves Federal Court|
As we’ve discussed in previous posts here and here, the case of former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner is a sad saga. The decline of the former judge continued Tuesday as Baumgartner walked into a federal courtroom in shackles, standing accused of covering up the drug crimes of his former mistress while presiding over the Drug Court he helped create.
Baumgartner said little during his appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley. The seven-count indictment included allegations that he helped conceal the crimes of Deena Castleman, his one time mistress, starting as early as June 2009. While popping pills supplied to him by Castleman, Baumgartner presided over one of the most high-profile Knoxville criminal cases in recent memory – the slayings of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.
As discussed previously, the convictions of those involved in the gruesome case have since been overturned due to Baumgartner’s bad behavior. So far convictions in four other cases have also been overturned.
In the recent indictment, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Lewen argues that Baumgartner committed crimes of misprision of a felony when he intervened on Castleman’s behalf to cover up her involvement in a prescription drug ring. Baumgartner did so by vouching for Castleman before an Anderson County judge, pleading in her case for leniency. Baumgartner further lobbied Knox County General Sessions Court Judge Andrew Jackson VI and an assistant district attorney after a series of failed drug tests, all in an attempt to get a reprieve for Castleman.
In a later episode in the fall of 2009, Baumgartner lied to the staff at a local hospital to gain entry to Castleman’s room, claiming he was her attorney when he was actually there to do drugs and have sex with the woman. Each of the seven counts carries a maximum three year prison sentence and will likely result in the loss of Baumgartner’s state pension.
At the hearing this week Lewen claimed that Baumgartner is still using prescription drugs, citing prescriptions registered with various pharmacies in Knoxville as recently as March. Baumgartner’s attorney, Don Bosch, countered by claiming that the judge had a lung biopsy and that the drugs were legally prescribed.
The Court released Baumgartner pending a July trial on the condition that he undergoes a drug and alcohol assessment. Though many are eager to see Baumgartner punished for his tragic misbehavior, it will likely be summer or later until we find out how this growing mess resolves itself.
Read: “Former Judge Richard Baumgartner faces 7 federal counts of failing to report felonious activity,” by Jamie Satterfield, published at KnoxNews.com.
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