Ex-Knox Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner was convicted in federal court in Knoxville yesterday on five felony counts for lying about his pill-supplying mistress (Deena Castleman) to two judges, a Knox County child support referee, a state prosecutor, and a transitional housing director in order to cover up a drug-trafficking conspiracy involving Castleman.
Castleman was a graduate of the Drug Court that Baumgartner founded. She testified during the early part of the trial that she was using drugs again, fell on hard times, and came to see "Judge B," as she called him, for help in May 2009.
She said that "Judge B" admitted his own use of opiates at that meeting and asked her if she could help get them for him. She agreed. A drug and sexual liaison between Baumgartner and Castleman ensued. According to prosecutors and other trial testimony, Baumgartner subsequently lied to various officials to help Castleman.
Prosecutors maintained that Baumgartner lied to cover-up a drug trafficking conspiracy to keep the drugs and sex flowing. Defense attorneys said the lies, if any, were simply out of concern and affection for Castleman.
A recent News-Sentinel article is here,
Baumgartner's sentencing is set for March 27, 2013. He faces up to three years in prison on each count, and up to a $250,000 fine on each count. Significantly, the federal felony convictions may result in a loss of Baumgartner's $4900/month state pension--- a pension that was spared when Baumgartner resigned from the bench in 2011 and later reached a plea deal with a special prosecutor in a prior state action. For more, click here and here.
Baumgartner presided over many high-profile Knox County cases--including the Christian-Newsom kidnapping, rape, and torture trials. New trials against the defendants in those cases have been ordered in the fallout over Baumgartner's pill use and actions.
More from the News-Sentinel is here.