The U.S. attorney’s office said today it opposed the request by former Republican Sen. Gilbert Baker to be allowed to drink in moderation and avoid drug testing while he awaits trial on a federal bribery charge.
Baker is accused of bribing then-Judge Mike Maggio with campaign contributions to reduce the monetary verdict in a nursing home negligence case in favor of the campaign contributor, nursing home owner Michael Morton of Fort Smith. Maggio is serving a prison term. Morton has not been charged. Baker recently was allowed to delay his trial until Feb. 22, 2021.
Baker also asked to be allowed to drink in moderation, to be exempt from drug and alcohol testing and to have his wife report to the court if he abused alcohol.
Judge Price Marshall hasn’t acted on that request. The government responded in a motion today that it should be denied because Baker’s history of alcohol and methamphetamine abuse renders him a danger to the community, absent the prohibition on use and testing.
As set forth below, the Court’s bond conditions prohibiting BAKER from using alcohol and subjecting him to testing and treatment are necessary to reasonably assure the safety of the
community. BAKER has a prior conviction for driving while intoxicated. His impairment endangered other motorists. BAKER has a recent history of extended methamphetamine and alcohol use following this DWI. Further, BAKER has failed to abide by this Court’s conditions while on bond. Even with the possibility of incarceration hanging over him, BAKER preferred to use alcohol over complying with this Court’s conditions. This supports the need for BAKER to continue abstaining from alcohol. The use of alcohol is also inconsistent with remaining in recovery following BAKER’s inpatient treatment for methamphetamine and alcohol abuse.
The government detailed Baker’s arrest for DWI in 2016 and the subsequent testing that indicated he’d also been under the influence of methamphetamine.
The government said his use continued after that arrest.
On January 10, 2019, Individual G, a close personal and professional associate of BAKER’s, provided information to the United States that BAKER smoked methamphetamine “on
occasion.” Individual G admitted to supplying BAKER with methamphetamine beginning in 2014, and continuing through December 2018. On February 25, 2019, Individual G elaborated
that the methamphetamine was available to BAKER at Individual G’s home. BAKER had independent access to the methamphetamine, but Individual G and BAKER smoked
methamphetamine together two to three times a month. Sometimes BAKER paid Individual G for the methamphetamine, and sometimes he did not.
The motion reveals that the government had Baker under surveillance during its investigation of the case and it details multiple observations of Baker buying liquor in 2017 and 2018.
Since being charged in January 2019 and freed on bond under conditions that he be tested, the motion said Baker had twice given positive tests for alcohol.
Specifically, on April 20, 2019, BAKER submitted a urine specimen, which tested and confirmed positive for alcohol. The Pretrial Services Report states, “The defendant reported he tested positive for alcohol as a result of him consuming the following products which contained alcohol: cough syrup, pure vanilla extract, banana extract, and balsamic red wine vinegar.” This is a highly unusual explanation for testing positive for alcohol, and suggests that BAKER may have been attempting to conceal his actual use of alcohol against this Court’s conditions. This is similar to BAKER’s false denials regarding his use of alcohol and controlled substances during his 2016 DWI arrest.
On June 27, 2019, BAKER again submitted a urine specimen, which tested and confirmed positive for alcohol. The Pretrial Services Report states, “The defendant reported he consumed
two 12 ounce beers on June 26, 2019.” These positive results are
significant not just because they violate the terms of his bond, but also because they occurred while he was receiving outpatient substance abuse treatment at Freedom House. BAKER is still early in his recovery following inpatient treatment, and continuing to test BAKER for alcohol and drugs provides BAKER incentive to remain clean and participate in treatment
The government also said Baker had given no reason why continuing to comply with release terms presented a hardship. The government also opposed Baker’s request to be tried by a judge rather than a jury.