Griscom receives 3 years' probation Ex-drug empire member admits intimidating man into dropping lawsuit

July 07, 1998|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A former member of a drug empire was sentenced yesterday to three years' probation for intimidating a Severna Park man into dropping a civil lawsuit against an associate in the criminal ring.

In March, David W. Griscom, 32, admitted that in 1992 he ripped up grass and shrubs and damaged the finish on four cars at the Manhattan Woods home of Ralph A. Walker, trying to scare Walker into dropping a lawsuit against neighbor Anthony Baumgarten.

Walker had accused Baumgarten of beating him up and sued for $100,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. Baumgarten countersued for $115,000, and Walker dropped his suit in September 1992.

Yesterday, Griscom contended he had been pushed into the threatening tactics because he himself was intimidated by John Baumgarten Sr. and his sons, Anthony and John. Griscom this spring also testified against the Baumgartens, helping to obtain their convictions on federal drug charges and his own deal with prosecutors.

Prosecutors agreed to drop federal conspiracy charges against Griscom and to grant him leniency in his plea bargain in the case involving Walker.

"You felt intimidated?" Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Ronald A. Silkworth asked Griscom. "How do you think these [Walker's] kids felt?"

Family was fearful

In a victim impact statement, Walker family members described being fearful of leaving their home in the 700 block of Stinchcomb Road. They did not attend Griscom's sentencing.

Griscom, of the Eastern Shore town of Millington, apologized for what he called a "foolish" act done out of fear and to help settle a debt he owed the Baumgartens.

Griscom's attorney, Michael J. McCarthy, said his client has "been through an awful lot." He lost a $70,000-a-year job, his wife left him and he filed for bankruptcy in the aftermath of his involvement with the Baumgarten drug ring. Griscom is employed a construction job to support himself and two children.

"He upheld all parts of his plea agreement. He was a very vital part of that case," McCarthy said. "He has agreed to pay the restitution of $3,000."

Silkworth would not consider the defense request for probation before judgment, which would erase Griscom's conviction on obstruction of justice. He offered to consider it in the future, after Griscom pays for damage to the Walkers' property.

Most of fine suspended

Silkworth sentenced Griscom to 18 months in jail, suspending it in lieu of probation and 100 hours of community service. He also suspended all but $250 of a $1,000 fine.

Griscom was an alleged drug runner for the Baumgarten ring, which operated out of the family's Severna Park barbershop and Cape St. Clair home, said M. Virginia Miles, assistant state's attorney. Griscom agreed to vandalize Walker's property because he had lost $13,000 of the Baumgartens' money around 1986, when he went to Florida to buy cocaine for them but was robbed, she said.

He had repaid all but a few thousand dollars that he owed, so Anthony Baumgarten took it out in trade, using Griscom to intimidate people, Miles said.

Griscom was not charged with drug trafficking because he was not involved in that end of the operation during the years federal and local authorities probed the drug ring, Miles said. But he was indicted last year on a charge that the Baumgartens hired him to kill James Nawrocki, one of their dealers who turned informant. That charge will be dropped, Miles said.

Convicted on federal drug-trafficking charges, the elder Baumgarten, 54, and his sons, John Jr., 34, and Anthony, 32, face up to life in prison when sentenced Oct. 2.

Pub Date: 7/07/98

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