Ex-judge's pill supplier gets 4 years on other charges

Ex-Judge Baumgartner's pill supplier gets 4 years on other charges

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Chris Gibson Chris Gibson

By ERICA ESTEP
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The man who says he was intimidated when he sold pills to ex-Knox County Judge Richard Baumgartner was sentenced Friday on other charges.

Chris Gibson will serve four years for charges of violating probation and possessing a gun as a felon. 

Gibson testified Friday in his sentencing hearing that he sold drugs to the judge for six months when was on probation in the judge's court. He said when he tried to stop, "He told me I better do something fast."

When first approached by the judge, Gibson said, "I was scared of him, scared of the knowledge he had of me. I made the wrong decision."

Gibson claimed the judge was the only person he sold drugs to, but his ex-wife, Darlene, testified that he sold to other people as well.

Gibson's ex-wife also testified that he paid three women to go to Florida pain clinics to buy pills for him to sell.

He said Darlene lied, but prescriptions from Florida pain clinics in his name were found in his  home.

He got hundreds of pills himself in Florida, all for Baumgartner, Gibson told the court.

When pressed for details, Gibson said he sold pills to Baumgartner every two to three days, 10 to 30 pills at a time and charged only what they cost. Gibson said he never made a profit.

Special prosecutor Al Schumtuzer said loaded guns and dozens of live rounds were found in Gibson's home.

Gibson also had a rifle in his home, but he got rid of it before the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation did a search of home. He claimed it had nothing to do with a probe by the TBI.

After a brief recess, Gibson was recalled to the stand and reminded by the prosecutor that he's under oath. He said can't remember getting a travel permit from probation to go to Florida.

TBI agents asked Gibson to record phone conversations with Baumgartner and arrange a meeting, which the judge refused.

Gibson's attorney, James A.H. Bell, said his client had an anxiety attack during an interview with TBI agents.

TBI Agent Jim Williams said Gibson requested promises for his cooperation, but none were made. Once the gun was found in his home, "He got a lot more cooperative," Williams said.

Gibson testified that Baumgartner gave him money to post bond for a woman named Deena Castleman, who was in the judge's drug court program.

In his closing argument, prosecutor Schumtuzer said the state did not pursue charges against Gibson related to selling pills to Baumgartner because he cooperated with the investigation.

Schumtuzer pointed out that Gibson has four felony convictions. "There comes a time when you've got to have some jail time. He can't get off scot free," he said.

Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood agreed. He said he weighed heavily on Gibson's cooperation in the Baumgartner investigation, but it was motivated by self-interest.

The judge said he doesn't believe Gibson acted under duress, noting that he could have walked away.

Judge Blackwood also said he doesn't believe Baumgartner was Gibson's only customer. "I don't believe for one minute that you weren't getting drugs from your own doctor to sell to others."

Gibson's two chances at probation have failed, according to Judge Blackwood who then revoked his probation.

Gibson was taken into custody, but he can post a $100,000 bond pending an appeal.

Gibson's attorney, James A. H. Bell, subpoenaed Baumgartner to testify, but Baumgartner's attorney, Don Bosch, succeeded in getting that quashed. The reason is sealed under a court order.

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