Family convicted of drug smuggling Arundel barbershop used as cover for cocaine ring

June 02, 1998|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

A federal jury convicted John Baumgarten and his two sons yesterday of running a much feared drug smuggling ring out of their Severna Park barbershop, which they used as cover to sell more than 60 pounds of cocaine in Anne Arundel County.

The stylishly coiffed Baumgartens appeared stunned when the verdicts were read in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Just moments earlier, John Baumgarten Sr. had given a big smile and a "thumbs up" sign to his wife as though he were confident he would be hearing good news.

The defendants' wives and relatives wept when a clerk announced the guilty verdicts for federal drug distribution charges. Minutes later, one of the Baumgarten relatives cursed the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case, yelling as she left the courtroom, "I hope your mother dies."

The elder Baumgarten, 54, and his sons, John Jr., 34, and Anthony, 32, each face up to life in prison when sentenced Oct. 2. A source familiar with the case said John Baumgarten Sr., who masterminded the drug operation, had rejected a plea offer of 17 years because he believed he would be acquitted.

The same jury of eight men and four women also ruled in a special verdict that the Baumgartens had made roughly $3.2 million in the drug trade in the last five years and that 17 properties they own in Maryland and Florida must be forfeited to the government.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea L. Smith said the verdicts capped seven years of work by drug agents who tracked the Baumgartens' drug operation from their homes in Anne Arundel County to beach condominiums in Florida.

Pub Date: 6/02/98

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