A doctor who traded prescription drugs for sex on Craigslist was sentenced to nearly six years in prison Tuesday by a federal judge who said his crimes prompted “revulsion and horror.”
Dr. Joshua D. Baron, 40 — formerly of Rush, Stroger and St. Anthony’s hospitals — seemed shell-shocked and close to tears after U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer handed him a 70 month sentence.
Calling himself “Robert Crumb” in an apparent reference to the comic-book artist, Baron posted ads on the “casual encounters” section of Craigslist, offering prescription drugs including Adderall, Vicodin and morphine sulphate in return for sex.
Choking up in court Tuesday as he apologized for using his prescription to buy sex with 16 women between 2006 and 2011, he said he was abused as a child and was driven by the “demons” of a “sexual addiction.”
“I’m deeply regretful for what I’ve done,” he said. “My actions could have led to serious harm and death — I regret my actions also broke apart my family.”
Baron, of Forest Park, admitted he took advantage of drug-addicted women — on some occasions accepting cash instead of sex, then using that cash to buy sex at massage parlors.
He took cavalier risks, evidence in the case showed, even sending an undercover investigator he was wooing an email telling her to look him up on the Rush Hospital website.
But he said on Tuesday that he had now received therapy to get control of his problem. And he denied prosecutors’ allegation that he raped a woman who passed out after drinking wine and taking Xanax that he’d given her.
Pallmeyer said it was possible that both he and his accuser, who was not in court, were telling the truth, because the woman may have appeared conscious but still not remembered what happened to her, thanks to the cocktail of alcohol and drugs.
But the judge said the case was less about drugs than Baron’s abuse of his medical powers, adding that Baron was intelligent and well-educated enough to know his desires were “aberrant.”
His victims “would in some cases do almost anything” for a fix, she said. “This was a very serious and disturbing series of criminal activities.”
Stripped of his medical license in 2011, he must also serve 10 years of supervised release, complete 1,000 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine, Pallmeyer said.
Defense attorney Steven Yonover had asked for far less, saying federal sentencing guidelines were unfairly treating Baron “like he’s a drug dealer.”
But the 70 month prison term was in line with what Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider had requested. Prescription drug overdoses in the U.S. outnumber heroin and cocaine deaths combined, he said.