He had been sitting on the bench for nearly 20 years when, a little over a year ago, a Tennessee judge who lives about 225 miles to the east of Clarksville stepped down from his position. He pleaded guilty to felony official misconduct after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation had apparently discovered that he'd illegally purchased narcotics from a person on probation.
Now the former Knox County judge, 65, faces even bigger legal problems. He's been arrested on federal felony charges of looking the other way as people engaged in drug trafficking.
The formal charge is misprision of a felony, meaning that he allegedly failed to report a felony to law enforcement authorities.
He's accused of misleading a fellow judge, staff people at a hospital and at the YWCA about a woman and others he reportedly knew were attempting to illegally obtain and sell controlled substances.
The judge appeared in court after his arrest and pleaded not guilty to all the charges filed against him.
A trial date was set for July 18, 2012.
If he's convicted, he faces up to three years in prison, plus fines of up to $250,000 for each of the seven counts. In a worst case scenario, it could mean 21 years in prison and $1.75 million in fines.
After his arrest, the former jurist reportedly submitted to a drug test, which he passed.
The former judge's arrest comes just about a week after the arrest of a man accused of supply the judge with painkillers was taken into custody on what police describe as a parole violation.
Source: VolunteerTV.com, "Baumgartner arrested on federal charges," May 15, 2012