After telling him he has “a scarlet letter chiseled on his forehead the rest of his life,” a federal judge sentenced disgraced ex-jurist Jack Camp to 30 days in prison for committing repeated crimes with a stripper.
“He has disgraced his office,” Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan said of Camp, the ex-federal judge from Newnan. “He has denigrated the federal judiciary. He has encouraged disrespect for the law.”
Camp, who was arrested Oct. 1 in an undercover drug sting, pleaded for leniency. He asked to be allowed to remain in his home and community to repair his marriage and rebuild his name.
“When I look back at the circumstances which brought me here, it makes me sick to think I did them,” he said. “They were illegal, wrong, foolish. … The only thing I can say is that I’m so very sorry.”
In court filings, Camp’s lawyers told Hogan that depression and a bipolar disorder as well as brain damage sustained in a 2000 bicycle accident — all exacerbated with improper prescriptions — help explain the ex-judge’s erratic and reckless conduct last year.
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Camp’s voice broke when he thanked Elizabeth, his wife of 35 years, and his son Harry and daughter Sophie for supporting him. Camp’s son, an Atlanta lawyer, asked Hogan to sentence his father to probation.
“My admiration for dad began long before he became a judge,” he said. “And I admire him still for facing these demons head on, for not shying away from responsibility for his actions.”
But Hogan, a Washington judge with 29 years’ service on the bench, said he could not get around the fact that a high-ranking government official had committed such serious offenses. He then read aloud the oath of office Camp took 22 years ago in the ceremonial courtroom across the hallway on the 23rd floor of the U.S. courthouse in Atlanta. This included Camp’s pledge, he noted, to follow the law.
“Instead, for whatever reasons, the demons he had made him go another way,” Hogan said as Camp, stone-faced, stood before him. At the time of Camp’s arrest, Hogan added, “There was no suggestion this conduct was ending.”
Hogan also ordered Camp to serve 400 hours of community service, pay a $1,000 fine and reimburse the government for the cost of its prosecution, which has yet to be determined. Camp will get credit for the weekend he spent in jail after his arrest. Camp said he has been working at a Habitat for Humanity warehouse and would like to help a Coweta County commission that supports Vietnam veterans like himself and assist the local public defender’s office in any way he can, even though he no longer has a law license.
Hogan told Camp, who has been free on bond, that he can voluntarily report to a prison once one is designated for him.
Camp, 67, was appointed to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. He resigned in November shortly before pleading guilty to drug charges and to giving the stripper his $825 government-issued laptop computer.
Camp met the exotic dancer at the Goldrush Showbar in May when she did a table dance for him. He was soon paying her for sex and together, they began smoking marijuana and snorting cocaine and a synthetic form of heroin.
But by October she had begun cooperating with undercover FBI agents who lured in Camp to help her make a drug deal. He gave her $160 and told her to make the purchase because she already had a criminal record. In a parking lot off of Chamblee Tucker Road, she handed over the cash to the dealer, who was actually an undercover agent.
Prosecutor Deborah Sue Mayer of the U.S. Justice Department’s public integrity section reminded Hogan that Camp showed up for the that deal armed with two handguns. One was found in the console of his car and the other was found on the seat with a round in the chamber and the hammer locked, she said. After the deal was consummated — and just before he was arrested — Camp told the undercover agent he’d come calling again for more drugs.
“He engaged in repeated criminal conduct over four months,” Mayer said. “This was not a one-time thing. This was not a one-time lapse in impulse control.”
In one ruling issued Friday, Hogan found that Camp had not committed a felony, as prosecutors believed he did had when they signed the plea agreement. Instead, Camp committed three misdemeanors, exposing him to a sentence of up to 6 months in prison. Prosecutors asked Hogan to sentence Camp to at least 15 days in prison. Camp’s lawyers asked for probation and community service.
Camp said the past few months had been a nightmare for him and said it has been a struggle to go out in public because of his humiliation and shame.
“I had worked hard as a judge and earned a respected reputation,” he said. “Now I’ll be known as the judge who disgraced himself at the end of his career.”