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Published: Thursday, 10/3/2002

Oak Harbor lawyer charged with escape

PORT CLINTON - Oak Harbor attorney Elsebeth Baumgartner was indicted yesterday on a charge of escape after failing to return to the Ottawa County jail from a furlough.

Ms. Baumgartner, 47, who has accused numerous public officials in Erie and Ottawa counties of corruption, could be sentenced to one year in prison and fined $2,500 if convicted.

She was arrested Sept. 20 and charged with violating her probation for a falsification conviction. Ms. Baumgartner was allowed to leave the jail Sept. 25 to attend a hearing in Cleveland on the possible revocation of her law license but did not return by Saturday morning, when her furlough ended.

Visiting Judge John Adkins of Ottawa County Municipal Court issued an arrest warrant yesterday on the escape charge. As of late yesterday afternoon, Ms. Baumgartner had not returned to the jail or been apprehended.

Her husband, Joe Baumgartner, said he has not seen or spoken to his wife since her furlough ended. He criticized the prosecution of Ms. Baumgartner as “government run amok” and said law enforcement officers unfairly have characterized her as being mentally unstable.

“She's a good woman,” Mr. Baumgartner said. “She's definitely not crazy.”

Ms. Baumgartner was convicted in July in Ottawa County Municipal Court of making false statements about Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter and other investors in a local ferry company. Court records show she violated her probation by refusing to undergo a psychiatric exam and by making further statements about alleged misconduct.

Mrs. Baumgartner had been scheduled for a hearing Tuesday in municipal court on the probation violation charge. That hearing was canceled and has not been rescheduled.

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