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Published: Friday, 1/10/2003

Accused attorney remains free after hearing

Baumgartner: Contends last arrest illegal. Baumgartner: Contends last arrest illegal.
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PORT CLINTON - The last time Elsebeth Baumgartner was furloughed from the Ottawa County jail, she failed to return and ended up being arrested two weeks later in Texas.

On furlough again this week for a relative's funeral, Ms. Baumgartner showed up yesterday for a hearing in Ottawa County Municipal Court on an alleged probation violation.

Visiting Judge John Adkins continued the probation-violation case and released Ms. Baumgartner on a personal recognizance bond. No new hearing date was set.

“My only reason for not appearing last time was, I was illegally arrested on an unsworn complaint,” she said outside the courtroom before the hearing. “This is the first hearing I'm getting, 112 days after my arrest.”

Ms. Baumgartner, 47, has accused public officials in Ottawa and Erie counties of corruption. She was convicted in July of falsification and placed on probation for public statements she made against Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter and other investors in a Sandusky boat line.

Ms. Baumgartner was charged with violating her probation and arrested Sept. 20. She was furloughed Sept. 25 to attend a hearing in Cleveland on the possible revocation of her law license.

She was ordered to return to the Ottawa County jail by Sept. 29 but instead drove to Texas, where she was arrested Oct. 11. Released on bond there, she returned to Ohio and was jailed Nov. 14.

At that time, she was charged with escape, a felony. That charge was dismissed Jan. 3 and refiled yesterday in municipal court as a first-degree misdemeanor.

If convicted on that charge or the probation violation, Ms. Baumgartner could be sentenced to six months in jail and fined $1,000.

Ms. Baumgartner was accused of violating her probation by making further public accusations of corruption and by refusing to submit to a psychiatric examination.

Yesterday, her attorney, Gerald Walton, gave Judge Adkins the names of three forensic psychiatrists from the Cleveland area who could examine Ms. Baumgartner. Judge Adkins said he would evaluate the psychiatrists and decide if one of them is suitable.

The judge also admonished Ms. Baumgartner, telling her: “You must comply with all terms of probation.”

Afterward, special prosecutor Tim Braun, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, said he was satisfied with the judge's actions.

Mr. Braun acted as prosecutor during Ms. Baumgartner's falsification trial in July, 2002.

Late Wednesday, she filed a petition in Lucas County Common Pleas Court, asking Judge William Skow to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate her allegations of public corruption in northwest Ohio. Ms. Baumgartner's filing alleges that federal and county officials, including Mr. Braun, blocked her attempts to expose criminal activity in the region.



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