Maybe judge’s insanity was not so temporary, after all

Posted on 21 Sep 2006 at 2:11pm
By Leslie Robinson – General Gayety

Former Tennessee county judge claimed wife’s lesbian affair drove him to crime, but the evidence indicates he has always been a jerk

Thomas Austin had pleaded guilty months before to taking kickbacks. As his sentencing neared, the former Tennessee county judge could only hope the federal judge presiding over his case would be lenient toward a former colleague and sympathetic to a man whose two-timing wife spread her legs for a dyke.

It was his wife’s lesbian liaison that led Austin to extort money from two driving schools and a private probation firm, he claimed. He got criminal because she got carnal.

That’s the case Austin’s lawyer, Gregory P. Isaacs, put forth in a sentencing memorandum to U.S. District Judge Thomas Phillips.

Isaacs wrote: “In early 2005, while Mr. Austin and his second wife were in marital counseling, she admitted her year-long involvement in an extramarital lesbian relationship.”

Their marriage counselor probably charged double for that session.

“Mr. Austin was quite distraught, sought medical help for depression and was prescribed anti-depressants,” continued Isaacs. “Additionally, he began drinking heavily despite earlier struggles with alcohol. All of the charges that are included in this indictment occurred after this difficult and tumultuous period in Mr. Austin’s personal life.”

So thanks to his wife’s behavior, Austin, a Roane County General Sessions Court judge, suddenly lost contact with right and wrong. He was so adrift, I bet he sometimes even forgot to count the money he extorted.

Over six months in 2005, Austin collected about $14,000. Still, Isaac also submitted to the court lots of letters from Tennessee citizens lauding Austin’s notable public service, which included helping to establish a battered-women’s shelter.

That appears to have been his Dr. Jekyll side, since secretly recorded tapes show Tennessee’s own Mr. Hyde: “I’ve pulled every [expletive] thing in the book,” Austin said to one of the men he was shaking down during his lost months. “I’ve granted girls divorces in the morning and [likely the same expletive, this time a verb] them that afternoon.”

On other occasions he bragged about recent sexual encounters with women, and advised one man, “Get you a little wife and a little house and a couple of [I bet the same multi-purpose expletive] mistresses, you’ll be all right. You’ll be right in there with the rest of us.”

I can’t imagine why Austin’s wife cheated on him. He’s such a treasure.

His four kids, two still in school, are another reason he asked for leniency from Judge Phillips. But on tape, notes the Knoxville News Sentinel, Austin said, “If me and my old lady get divorced, I’ll just let her have them [expletive he should be ashamed of in this context] kids. Tell her it ain’t my [ditto] problem.”

It’s conceivable that these are the words of a man who feels emasculated and is overcompensating. I could buy that his wife’s lesbian affair caused him to act hyper-masculine. I can’t buy that lesbianism turned him into a crook.

The head of the FBI investigation who believes Austin has been lining his own pockets for a decade, amassing up to $100,000 doesn’t believe it either.

On tape Austin said federal authorities have been after him for 20 years, and I’m sure it wasn’t simply for repetitious swearing.

Then there’s that strong suggestion that the judge used his position to earn himself some sexual favors from women. Yup, it sure looks like the federal prosecutor was right in describing Austin as “corrupt to his core.”

Judge Phillips sentenced Austin to 42 months in federal prison. The devil-made-me-do-it defense didn’t earn Austin leniency.

Another letter that Austin’s lawyer had submitted to Phillips before sentencing came from Austin’s eldest child, who wrote, “My younger brother will have to live with his mother and her new girlfriend if my dad has to go away.”

The letter-writer is a chip off the old blockhead.

Leslie Robinson’s columns are available at www.GeneralGayety.com.

E-mail LesRobinsn@aol.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, September 22, 2006.

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