Ex-Knox Judge Richard Baumgartner arrested on federal felonies

Ex-Knox County Judge Richard Baumgartner arrested on federal felonies

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Richard Baumgartner leaving the courthouse Tuesday Richard Baumgartner leaving the courthouse Tuesday

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Richard Baumgartner, the ex-Knox County Criminal Court judge at the center of a pill addiction and sex scandal, was arrested Tuesday afternoon on seven federal felony counts.

In connection to an ongoing probe by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, a federal grand jury indicted Baumgartner, 65, Tuesday on seven counts of misprision of a felony.

The charges mean he's accused of knowing about violations of federal drug trafficking laws and not reporting them or concealing them so a drug conspirator could continue with the crimes.

Agents surprised Baumgartner Tuesday afternoon when they took him into custody near the intersection of Asheville Highway and Gov. John Sevier Highway.

Baumgartner pleaded not guilty in federal court in Knoxville about an hour after he was taken into custody.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley agreed to release Baumgartner with conditions. He cannot have any firearms. He owns some that his wife is removing. He can't break any laws or drink alcohol. He can't have any unlawful or unprescribed narcotics and must submit to random drug tests.

Court officials said Tuesday the results of a urinalysis on Baumgartner came back clean. His trial is set for July 18.

If he's convicted, Baumgartner faces three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.

In March 2011, Baumgartner pleaded guilty to official misconduct and resigned from the bench. As part of his plea deal at that time, Baumgartner received a suspended sentence, two years of judicial diversion and a chance to keep his state pension.

A probe by the TBI revealed that Baumgartner was buying prescription pain pills from Chris Gibson, a convicted felon on probation in Baumgartner's court.

The probe also found that Judge Baumgartner began obtaining his drugs by doctor shopping, then started buying them from Gibson.

Baumgartner became involved with Deena Castleman, one of his Drug Court graduates, in a relationship that included sex, pill sharing and paying some of her bills, according to the TBI.

The federal indictment accuses Baumgartner of lying about Castleman and their drug conspiracy to: an Anderson County criminal court judge, the staff of Mercy Medical in 2009, a Knox County General Sessions Court judge, a housing director at the YWCA, a Knox County Juvenile Court magistrate and a Knox County assistant district attorney general.

The Tennessee Supreme Court disbarred Baumgartner in October 2011.

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