Wednesday, April 10, 2013

TN - Ex-Tenn. judge (Richard Baumgartner) sentenced in drugs, sex scheme

Richard Baumgartner
Original Article

04/10/2013

By KRISTIN M. HALL

GREENEVILLE (AP) - A former county judge in Tennessee has been sentenced to six months in federal prison for lying to cover up a scheme that provided him with painkillers and sex.

Richard Baumgartner expressed remorse at sentencing Wednesday in federal court, saying he was greatly shamed and regretted his actions. The 65-year-old former Knox County judge was convicted in November of five counts of misprision of a felony.

Authorities said he lied to cover up a conspiracy involving a defendant from his court, a woman about half his age who had supplied him with pills and sex.

An investigation also found he was using large amounts of painkillers while presiding over trials and had purchased drugs inside the county courthouse building starting around 2007 until he stepped down in 2011.

"I will forever be remorseful for any disgrace I have brought to that profession," the disgraced judge said, speaking at his sentencing hearing in Greeneville.

Baumgartner resigned from the bench and pleaded guilty in March 2011 to a state charge of official misconduct after a probe by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation found he was addicted to painkillers and purchased pills from Deena Castleman, who had graduated from his drug court program. He did not receive jail time for that plea.

Federal prosecutors had requested Baumgartner serve two years in prison, saying his actions severely disrupted the Knox County courts and required retrials of half a dozen people. In particular, retrials were ordered for two defendants in highly publicized trials involving the 2007 torture slayings of a young Knoxville couple.

The prosecutors told U.S. District Judge J. Ronnie Greer in a memo that "Baumgartner engaged in despicable conduct that has shaken the public's confidence in the criminal justice system."

But Baumgartner's attorney, Donald Bosch, pleaded for probation. The defense attorney said Baumgartner had already been publicly humiliated, financially ruined, debarred and now is a convicted felon.

In sentencing Baumgartner to prison, Greer said the defendant should serve some prison time because judges should be held to a higher standard. Greer said Baumgartner also must undergo drug testing and drug and mental health treatment upon his release.

First appointed to the Knox County Criminal Court in 1992, Baumgartner once presided over many high-profile criminal cases in Knoxville. He also launched the county's drug court.


CA - Offenders Complain of Online Extortion

Original Article

03/22/2013

By REBEKAH KEARN

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Five Arizona men conspired to extort sex offenders by claiming they will take their names and photos off websites for $500, but leaving the information online whether their victims pay or not, 10 sex offenders claim in a federal RICO complaint.

Eight John Does and two Jane Does sued (PDF) five Arizona men, claiming they use websites to extort money from registered sex offenders, and from sex offenders who no longer have to register.

The defendants are Brent Oesterblad of Paradise Valley, David Oesterblad of Tempe, Chuck Rodrick II, Charles David Gilson, and Traci Heisig, all of Desert Hills.
- Visit Offendextortion.com for more info.

"This action challenges defendants' ... conspiracy to violate the RICO Act through a pattern of racketeering activity, including but not limited to extortion of plaintiffs by requiring payment to remove their names, photographs, and/or identifications as 'sex offenders' from multiple websites available to the public," the complaint states.

"This action also challenges defendants' publication of plaintiffs' names and photographs on websites available to the public without plaintiffs' prior consent in violation of the California right of publicity, California Civil Code §3344, as well as defendants' intentional infliction of emotional distress upon plaintiffs."

Plaintiffs say their names and photos have been posted on the websites SORarchives, Offendex and Online Detective, which are not named as parties to the complaint.

But the plaintiffs claim the defendants either own, operate, maintain or work for the three sites, which are accessible by anyone in the United States.

"Defendants' publication of plaintiffs' names and photographs as well as their identification of a sex offender on three public websites is outrageous conduct because it knowingly placed plaintiffs at risk of grave physical harm, even death, unemployment, and homelessness," the complaint states.

Though the websites publish both the John and Jane Does' names and pictures, they list only the John Does as sex offenders, according to the complaint.

Jane Doe No. 9 says she never has committed a sexual crime and is not a sex offender, but lives with her husband, John Doe No. 4, who has not had to register as a sex offender since January this year.

Jane Doe No. 10 says she never committed a sexual crime, but lives with her son, John Doe No. 5, who is not required to register as a sex offender.

"Defendants have conspired to extort money from plaintiffs by requiring each of them to pay for removal of their names and photographs from the 'SORarchives' website," the complaint states. "Plaintiffs have paid defendants to remove this information from the 'SORarchives' website; however, the information continues to be published therein."

The Does claim the defendants also "conspired to extort money from plaintiffs when they required plaintiffs to pay up to $500 for removal of their names and photographs" from Offendex and Online Detective. The plaintiffs say they refused to pay, so the defendants continued to publish their personal information on those sites.

The Does claim the defendants "gained great pecuniary benefit from the unauthorized use of plaintiffs' names and images by using them to build their businesses and promote their services."

The Does acknowledge that their names and photographs are part of the public record, but say this "does not relieve defendants of the obligation to obtain consent from those whose persona they are exploiting for personal gain."

They claim: "The enterprise which has created, operated, and maintained the websites has conducted in racketeering activity due to its extortion of funds from plaintiffs."

And: "Plaintiffs have suffered severe emotional distress, including public humiliation and depression, due to risk of grave physical harm, lost employment opportunities, and inability to obtain adequate housing."

The plaintiffs seek actual, punitive and treble damages for RICO violations, violations of the right of publicity, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

They also want temporary and permanent injunctions and an order "requiring defendants to divest themselves of any interest, direct or indirect, in any website."

They are represented by Janice M. Bellucci of Santa Maria.

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CANADA - Jailing blind sex offender breaches UN agreement, judge rules

Original Article

04/09/2013

By Kevin Martin

CALGARY - Sending a blind sex offender to prison would violate Canada's United Nations obligations over the treatment of disabled persons, a Calgary judge ruled Tuesday.

As a result, former paralympian [name withheld] will instead serve 18 months probation, during which he will remain under house arrest, provincial court Judge Heather Lamoureux said.

Steven Sehaal testified [name withheld] would face numerous difficulties if sentenced to a period of incarceration at the facility.

Crown prosecutor Vicki Faulkner had argued a jail term of 18 to 24 months was warranted after [name withheld] groped a female friend as she slept.

But Miller produced a copy of a UN agreement to which Canada is a signatory.

"The defence has made rather unique submissions in which it argued that a sentence of incarceration is in breach of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities," Lamoureux said.