The Associated Press by Greg Bluestein - March 11, 2011
ATLANTA, GA (AP) — A former federal judge who was involved in a scandal involving drugs, guns and a stripper was sentenced Friday to 30 days in prison by a visiting jurist who told him he shamed the profession. Former U.S. District Senior Judge Jack Camp had asked that he be sentenced to community service and probation after he pleaded guilty to charges of using drugs with the stripper and giving her an $825 government laptop. Prosecutors said he should serve between 15 days and six months to repay his debt to society. In the end, Judge Thomas Hogan, a Washington judge flown in to hear the case, said he understood Camp has been forever humiliated and "has a scarlet letter chiseled on his forehead the rest of his life." But he said he couldn't get around the serious misconduct of a high-ranking official. "He has disgraced his position and himself and denigrated his office," Hogan said. "I could not only give him a sentence of probation and spare him confinement." Camp's attorneys said in documents that his decades-long battle with depression and a bicycling accident in 2000 caused brain damage that led him to use drugs and start seeing the stripper in May 2000. But the former judge said at the sentencing hearing that his struggles don't excuse the conduct. "I understand that I have brought it on myself and I am committed to overcome that stigma. I want to pay the debt that I owe and rebuild my reputation," said Camp, who was also ordered to serve one year of probation, pay $1,000 and complete 400 hours of community service. He added: "The only thing I can say is that I'm so very sorry." Prosecutors said there was no denying Camp was a community leader, a family man and a respected jurist before he struck up the relationship with the stripper. But they said he owed a debt to society for conduct that put the integrity of the federal courts at stake. "Mr. Camp engaged in repeated criminal conduct over four months. This was not a one-time thing," said prosecutor Deborah Mayer. "This was not a one-time lapse in impulse control." Camp, who is married with two adult children, is a Vietnam War veteran who was appointed to the bench by Ronald Reagan in 1987. After he started seeing the stripper, prosecutors say he soon began paying her for sex and using drugs with her. Over the next few months, the two used cocaine and other drugs together at strip clubs and other places. In June, prosecutors said he brought a semiautomatic handgun with him when he followed her to a suburban Atlanta home where she was buying drugs. She became a government informant by October, when Camp was arrested in a parking lot by federal agents after he gave the stripper $160 for a drug deal. They also recovered two guns from his front seat and discovered that he gave the stripper his government-issued laptop computer. As part of the plea agreement, he stepped down from the bench and agreed to cooperate with authorities looking into any of the cases he handled while he was being investigated. He could have faced up to four years in federal prison, but prosecutors and defense attorneys acknowledged he was going to receive substantially less time.
The judge's arrest and prosecution created a mess in the busy Northern District of Georgia, which covers metro Atlanta. Hogan, a veteran judge from the District of Columbia, was assigned the case because the other judges recused themselves, and prosecutors from the Justice Department's central office flew in to handle the case. Camp's legal team filed a flurry of legal motions and provided more than a dozen letters urging Hogan to back a sentence of community service and probation instead of jail time. And at the hearing, four longtime friends of Camp, as well as his son Harry, vouched for the ex-judge. Harry Camp said his father was training for a father-son bicycling trip across southern France in 2000 when he got into an accident that left him with broken ribs, a concussion and brain damage that could have worsened his impulse control. After the accident, Harry Camp said the two seemed to grow further apart. He said his father seemed more irritable, troubled and embittered over the next few years. When his father called him in October with the news about his arrest, Harry Camp said "something within me instantly knew it was a part of that internal struggle." But Harry said the arrest had a silver lining: It finally forced his father to get proper treatment of his psychiatric problems. "I admired my dad before he was a judge," he said. "And I admire him still for facing these demons head on, for not shying away from responsibility for his actions in this matter and for persevering so that he may become a better, more whole person in the end."
************************** RELATED STORY:
Ex-judge Camp sentenced to 30 days in prison
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by Bill Rankin - March 11, 2011