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Alleged Liaisons With Undercover Stripper Lead to Judge’s Arrest on Drug, Gun Charges

from www.law.com – An FBI undercover investigation that began last spring led Friday night to the arrest of a federal senior judge on federal drug and gun charges stemming from an alleged series of liaisons with an exotic dancer with a felony record, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta on Monday.

U.S. District Senior Judge Jack T. Camp may be the first sitting judge in Georgia’s Northern District to be arrested by FBI agents, said Camp’s lead counsel, Atlanta defense attorney William A. Morrison. His comments came after Camp’s first appearance on Monday before a federal magistrate judge, who was brought in from Alabama after jurists in the Atlanta federal court recused.

“We’re in uncharted waters,” said Morrison.

Camp was freed on a $50,000 unsecured bond Monday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles S. Coody from the Middle District of Alabama.

FBI agents arrested Camp on Friday night in the parking lot of the Velvet Room in Atlanta after the senior judge and the exotic dancer — who was working as a confidential informant with the FBI — met with an undercover law enforcement agent to buy cocaine and Roxicodone, a prescription pain reliever, according to the federal complaint.

Agents arrested Camp shortly after the dancer gave the undercover officer $160 in cash in exchange for a plastic bag containing several blue pills and a white powder, which the dancer then gave to Camp, according to the complaint. The senior judge then allegedly dropped the drugs in his pocket, telling the undercover officer, “We’ll call you again.”

FBI agents said they recovered two firearms from the front seat of Camp’s vehicle — a loaded .380 Sig Sauer P238 with its hammer cocked and a chambered round and a loaded Colt MK IV Series 80 pistol.

On Monday, Camp, dressed in a blue pinstripe suit, flanked by his attorneys and wearing a resolute expression, appeared before Coody after spending the weekend in the custody of the U.S. marshals. Richard V. Mecum, U.S. marshal for Georgia’s Northern District, declined to say where Camp had been housed, citing security concerns.

Morrison, who said he has tried cases in Camp’s courtroom numerous times, was joined by associate Carter Clayton, Newnan attorney Michael G. Kam and Judson W. Starr, an attorney at Venable in Washington. Starr said he has known Camp since the two men served in Vietnam together.

Camp stood as Coody read him his Miranda rights. Asked if he understood the charges that had been lodged against him, Camp replied, “I think so, Judge.”

Camp’s wife, Elizabeth, and his adult children watched from the first row.

Deborah Mayer and Tracee Powell, trial attorneys from the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Public Integrity, represented the government.

Camp did not enter a plea at the hearing, but at a news conference afterward, Morrison said that Camp will likely enter a plea of not guilty.

Morrison declined to comment on details of the federal complaint. “This is really a case between Judge Camp and his wife, not a case about Judge Camp being a judge,” he said. “It’s a case about Judge Camp being a husband.”

Camp’s wife, Morrison said, “is an extremely strong woman. She is going to stand by him [the judge], and he’s going to get through this.”

Camp did not appear at the news conference with his attorneys, but Morrison described the senior judge as “upbeat” and “in good spirits.”

The judge, who took senior status beginning Jan. 1, 2009, hasn’t decided yet whether he will step down from the bench, Morrison said, but “more than likely will take the federal version of a leave of absence. … He’s not going to sit on any criminal or civil cases.”

“It is not a case about judging,” Morrison added. “It’s a case about judgment.”

On Monday, Northern District of Georgia Chief Judge Julie E. Carnes said that the chief justice of the United States will soon be appointing an Article III judge from outside the 11th Circuit to handle all future judicial proceedings related to Camp’s charges.

According to the complaint, Camp met the stripper who would become the FBI’s confidential informant at the Goldrush Showbar in Atlanta last spring when she offered him private dances in exchange for money in the club’s VIP area. Camp bought a private dance that night, according to the complaint, then returned the following day, when he purchased another private dance and then paid the stripper for sex, according to the complaint.

During that liaison, Camp asked the stripper what she was “on,” according to the complaint. She told the judge she had used cocaine and, when Camp asked if she had any more, she gave cocaine to him. The complaint states that Camp paid her $40 to $50 in cash, then joined the stripper in snorting the cocaine.

According to the complaint, the stripper “recently began cooperating with the FBI,” and at the FBI’s direction has conducted recorded conversations with Camp. The stripper, who is not named in the complaint, has a federal felony conviction for use of a telephone in connection with a drug trafficking crime and has admitted in engaging in criminal activity in 2010, including prostitution and purchasing and using controlled substances.

Before the stripper began cooperating with the FBI as a confidential informant in the Camp investigation, she had surreptitiously recorded Camp and also had alerted both the DEA and the GBI about her recordings of the judge, according to the complaint.

In return for her help in the FBI’s investigation of the judge, the stripper has been promised that she will not be prosecuted for any of the criminal activity she has admitted, according to the complaint.

Throughout the spring and summer, Camp continued to meet the stripper, pay her for sex and the two used cocaine, Roxicodone and marijuana that the senior judge had purchased, according to the complaint.

In June, Camp allegedly followed the dancer when she drove to Marietta to buy drugs, carrying a pistol that he later told her he had brought to protect her. In September, Camp told the dancer that he was unhappy about the way in which the individual from whom the dancer bought the drugs was treating her. Camp had a gun in his lap, the complaint said, and, at one point, she urged him not to get out of the car, fearful that he might confront her drug dealer.

Last week, during a telephone conversation that was recorded, Camp planned to meet the stripper, and the two allegedly discussed securing drugs which Camp said he would buy and for which he wired her $290, according to Western Union records cited in the complaint.

On Friday, during another recorded conversation, Camp allegedly discussed an earlier promise that the judge “would try to help” with the stripper’s criminal record and counseled her to tell a potential employer who had turned her down for a job that “it was a minor offense and that one of the judges on the court can explain that to him. And that it doesn’t indicate that you were really dealing drugs, you just made some phone calls.”

During that conversation, Camp and the dancer also discussed the possibility that a friend of the dancer’s would spend time with her and the judge. Camp then counseled that he “needed to be careful about using illegal drugs in front of someone he did not know” and stated that his “situation [was] more precarious,” according to the complaint. He said he wanted to meet the stripper’s friend and “make sure that I feel I can trust her before we go the whole monty with it,” by which he explained he meant using drugs.

Less than three hours later, the dancer told Camp during a follow-up conversation that she was having trouble buying drugs, and that she was concerned about her safety, according to the complaint. She then asked Camp if he would be willing to follow her, as he had done previously, to which the judge responded, “I’ll watch your back anytime ’cause I’m afraid, and I not only have my little pistol, I’ve got my big pistol so, uh, we’ll take care of any problems that come up,” the complaint stated.

At 7:15 p.m. Friday, Camp met the dancer in the parking lot of a Publix grocery on Shallowford Road in Atlanta where Camp said he wanted to meet the drug dealer, according to the complaint. Camp told her, “Let me let you pay him because you’ve already got a record. I don’t.”

Camp then withdrew about $400 from a nearby ATM, gave the stripper $160 in cash to buy the drugs, according to the complaint. The two then drove separately to the Velvet Room, where Camp was arrested after he and the dancer bought drugs from an undercover agent.

Lawyers who know Camp expressed shock at the news.

J. Littleton Glover Jr. practiced with Camp at Glover & Davis for about 20 years, but said he has known him “since we were Cub Scouts together.”

“It’s just flabbergasting to me,” said Glover. “I don’t know a finer person than Jack Camp, anywhere. It’s incomprehensible to me.”

According to the federal courts’ rules for judicial conduct proceedings, a circuit’s chief judge has the power to appoint a special committee of circuit and district judges to investigate a complaint of misconduct by a federal judge. But the rules caution that if the committee’s investigation concerns conduct that may be a crime, the committee must consult with the appropriate prosecutorial authorizes to avoid compromising any criminal investigation.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ circuit executive, James Gerstenlauer, declined comment for this story.

Camp, a Newnan native who will be 67 at the end of this month, was President Ronald Reagan’s last appointment to the federal bench, in 1988.

After graduating from The Citadel, he served a tour in Vietnam and then went to the University of Virginia’s law school, graduating in 1973.

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