ATLANTA – A veteran federal judge faces drug and firearms charges after an exotic dancer at an Atlanta strip club told authorities he used cocaine, marijuana and other illegal drugs with her.
Senior U.S. District Judge Jack T. Camp was arrested Friday minutes after he handed an undercover law enforcement agent $160 for cocaine and Roxycodone, a narcotic pain medication, that he intended to use with the exotic dancer, authorities said in a court document released Monday. They said they also found two firearms in the front seat of his vehicle.
Camp, 67, who has presided over some high-profile cases, was released Monday on a $50,000 bond. His attorney, William Morrison, said after a brief hearing that the judge intends to plead not guilty. Morrison said Camp would probably take a leave of absence and would not preside over any more cases until the charges are resolved.
"This is really a case between Judge Camp and his wife," said Morrison. "It's not about Judge Camp being a judge. It's about him being a husband."
Camp's arrest set up an unusual domino effect in the federal courthouse. The district's federal judges all recused themselves, so Magistrate Judge Charles S. Coody of Alabama was brought in to hear the case. Federal prosecutors from Washington also flew in to handle the government's arguments.
The charges against Camp were laid out in a shocking eight-page affidavit released after the emergency hearing was finished.
Camp met the confidential informant, who recently began cooperating with the FBI, at the Goldrush Showbar in Atlanta in early 2010 and he soon began paying her for sex and buying cocaine from her at $40 to $50 a pop, according to the records.
In June 2010, Camp followed the informant to a drug dealer in Marietta to buy Roxycodone. He was also recorded in a wiretapped telephone call on Sept. 28 talking with her about getting together over the weekend to split more pills and cocaine with her, according to the charges.
He showed up at a Publix parking lot in northeast Atlanta around 7:15 p.m. Friday to meet with the an undercover agent posing as the dealer. When the informant told her she was worried about his safety, the judge told her, "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," according to the affidavit.
He handed over $160 in cash to pay for the drugs around 7:35 p.m. Ten minutes later, authorities arrested the judge and seized the two guns from the front seat of his vehicle.
The judge faces four drug-related charges and one count of possessing firearms while illegally using drugs.
It's a stunning turn for Camp, a Vietnam War veteran who was appointed to the bench by Ronald Reagan in 1987. He is a former chief judge for the Northern District of Georgia.
Known for wearing suspenders around the courtroom, he handled hundreds of cases before taking senior status — and a lesser caseload — in 2008.
In 2004, he sentenced two men accused of killing DeKalb County Sheriff Derwin Brown to life in prison without parole. He also handled litigation from voting rights groups who sought to block Georgia from asking new voters to prove their identities and citizenship before casting their ballots.
The judge also handled several high-profile drug cases, including the May 2009 sentencing on prescription-related charges of the personal doctor to a professional wrestler who killed himself, his wife and their 7-year-old son.
Camp, wearing a pinstripe suit, said little during the brief hearing Monday but turned to flash a smile at his family after he walked in. He hired four defense attorneys over the weekend to represent him, and Morrison said his client was in "good spirits."
"Judge Camp's wife is an extraordinarily strong woman and she's going to stand by her husband," said Morrison. "And this is a very strong man. He's going to overcome these circumstances."