Suspended judge charged with drug distribution appears in court
SALT LAKE CITY — A suspended Salt Lake City Justice Court judge appeared in court for the first time Thursday after facing felony drug distribution charges.
Virginia Bauskett Ward, 46, was charged July 5 with two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, a second-degree felony, in 3rd District Court. The Drug Enforcement Agency announced Ward's arrest for investigation of drug distribution in April after investigators said Ward received a package containing 338 oxycodone pills.
According to the charges, the DEA began to investigate "numerous packages" it believed contained oxycodone that were being sent to box at a UPS Store at 358 S. 700 East. A subpoena was obtained for the rental box and showed it was rented by Ward.
"During the course of his investigation, (a DEA agent) identified approximately 170 packages shipped to the defendant from numerous individuals around the country," the charges state, adding that Ward was seen retrieving the packages on five occasions. "On one occasion, agents watched as she opened the package and then appeared to swallow a pill while inside her vehicle."
On March 30, agents were notified that two packages arrived for Ward and watched the woman pick up the packages, which they later found contained 338 oxycodone pills.
Ward was arrested and 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 allegedly told agents the shipment was for a man named Jose or "Josh Anderson" and that she was planing to meet with him to give him the package. He, in turn, would give her some of the oxycodone, according to the charges.
"She said she knew he would then distribute the pills to other individuals," the charges state. "Ward admitted that she had engaged in this arrangement once before with Jose and that there was another package of oxycodone she ordered, which was due to arrive."
A package containing 60 oxycodone pills arrived April 5.
Court officials issued a statement after Ward's arrest saying she had been suspended and placed on administrative leave "pending the outcome of impending criminal charges."
Ward had her first appearance in court Thursday. She is scheduled to appear again Aug. 16.
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