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Accused Judge Checks into Hospital

May 5, 2000

NEWPORT, Tenn. (AP) _ A Cocke County judge checked into a private psychiatric hospital days after he allegedly ransacked the county executive’s office, then disappeared before warrants could be served.

Judge Ben Hooper II was admitted on Tuesday, Circuit Judge Richard Vance said.

``He is sick and we just hope that he gets well,″ Vance said Thursday.

Hooper, 60, a former state senator and grandson of the late Gov. Ben Hooper, allegedly stormed into County Executive Charles Lewis Moore’s office on Monday, scattered papers from a desk and smashed its glass top against a wall. Moore said Hooper was angry about a months-long probe into a trash hauling business owned by a friend of the judge.

Later Monday, Hooper waited at the county jail while authorities filled out warrants against him for destroying county property and public intoxication, both misdemeanors. He left with his son, lawyer Ben Hooper III, before the warrants could be served.

That night, the judge’s son and former Circuit Judge Ken Porter tried to get Hooper into an alcohol detoxification program at Peninsula Hospital in Louisville, Tenn. They left after Hooper allegedly broke a door when told by hospital officials that he needed a referral.

Blount County sheriff’s deputies stopped their car soon after, but didn’t detain Hooper because they didn’t know about the Cocke County warrants.

Porter said Hooper eventually was admitted at Peninsula on Tuesday, though hospital spokeswoman Sally Hanson refused to say Thursday if Hooper was a patient.

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