Ex-doctor gets almost 6 years for Craigslist sex-drugs scheme – Chicago Tribune

Former doctor Joshua D. Baron leaves the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse today after getting sentenced to nearly 6 years in prison for trading prescription narcotics for sex on Craigslist. (Phil Velasquez / Chicago Tribune)
A former Chicago doctor was sentenced Tuesday to nearly six years in prison for posting dozens of ads on Craigslist offering prescription drugs like Adderall and Xanax in exchange for sexual favors.
“Need Addreall or Xanax?” read one in the casual encounters section. “Let me know what you are willing to do in exchange… please send a pic.”
Prosecutors said 16 vulnerable victims fell prey to Joshua Baron’s scheme between 2006 and 2011.
Baron noticeably winced as U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer imposed the prison term of 5 years and 10 months.
“Mr. Baron was purchasing sexual favors for the drugs he knew people were addicted to and would do anything for,” said the judge, who ordered him to remain on supervised release for a decade after prison.
Baron, using the alias “Robert Crumb,” posted nearly 80 ads over those five years seeking to trade numerous kinds of powerful painkillers and other medication for sex, prosecutors said.
A pediatric neurologist, he treated patients at Rush University Medical Center, Stroger Hospital and St. Anthony’s Hospital – all in Chicago – until his arrest in 2011 after he was caught in an undercover sting by Wilmette police attempting to trade drugs for sex. His license was revoked that same year.
An investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Chicago police led to the broader federal charges against him.
On Tuesday, Baron’s voice cracked with emotion as he told the judge that he was sexually abused as a child and driven by the “demons of a sexual addiction” as an adult.
“I regret the embarrassment I’ve brought to my children,” the father of three said. “I apologize that their father is not truly a man they can fully look up to.”
Baron, 40, of Forest Park, pleaded guilty in March to one count of dispensing an amphetamine without a legitimate medical purpose. He admitted to handing over thousands of pills to the 16 victims in return for sex — or cash that he used to buy sex at massage parlors, prosecutors said.
Pallmeyer said Baron’s abuse of his medical powers led to the drunk-driving arrest of one victim who had just improperly obtained drugs from him.
“DUIs are terrible, terrible crimes that victimize completely innocent people,” Pallmeyer said. “The idea that Mr. Baron’s actions led to that are horrifying.”
The judge also raised concerns that Baron should have realized he needed help for his sexual problems.
Baron’s attorney, Steven Yonover, spent much of the sentencing focusing on what he described as Baron’s improvement since his arrest three years ago and how Baron was beginning to take control of what he referred to as a mental illness. He said Baron’s been seeing a therapist regularly.
Yonover asked Pallmeyer to consider these improvements in determining Baron’s sentence. He faced as much as 11 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, but Yonover argued that the guidelines wrongly treated Baron like a drug dealer.
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