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TOOELE — A former Salt Lake City Justice Court judge was sentenced to 90 days in jail Tuesday for distributing prescription drugs.
Virginia Bauskett Ward, 46, was also sentenced to three years' probation for a single count of possession with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, a second-degree felony. Third District Judge Robert Adkins also ordered Ward to serve 100 hours community service, pay a $1,000 fine and submit to at least monthly drug and alcohol tests.
The former judge is also subject to random searches, will have to provide probation officers with a list of any prescriptions she is given and undergo further treatment and possible electronic monitoring if deemed necessary by probation officers. Ward was ordered to report to the Salt Lake County Jail on Nov. 26, although attorneys indicated she will likely serve in a neighboring county as a security precaution.
Ward was serving as a justice court judge when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency arrested her after she received a package containing 338 oxycodone pills.
"During the course of his investigation, (a DEA agent) identified approximately 170 packages shipped to the defendant from numerous individuals around the country," the charging documents state, adding that Ward was seen retrieving the packages on five occasions.
I wouldn't be alive if I hadn't been arrested. I don't think it would have worked to continually use at that level. I'm glad to be out of that very dark place.
–Virginia Ward, former SLC judge
Ward told agents "she had been obtaining shipments of oxycodone to treat her neck pain," the charges state. "She also admitted to trading controlled substances that she had received in order to obtain oxycodone and other controlled substances."
Ward apologized Tuesday "for the damage" she has done, specifically naming a wide range of groups affected by her arrest, including those in the judiciary and law enforcement, attorneys and defendants whom she had placed on probation or in treatment.
"Obviously I would like to go back and redo a lot of choices and undo a lot of carnage but that isn't something that is available to me," she said.
She told Adkins she would accept his judgment and acknowledged that she had "hurt the profession." She said some good had come from her arrest and the treatment she completed afterward.
"I wouldn't be alive if I hadn't been arrested," she said. "I don't think it would have worked to continually use at that level. I'm glad to be out of that very dark place."
After her arrest, Ward was suspended and placed on administrative leave. She later resigned from her position just before she pleaded guilty to the distribution charge in August.
A second identical distribution count was dismissed in exchange for Ward's guilty plea.