'Away in treatment': Judge Michael Cook resigns amid drug probe drug and gun charges

News-DemocratMay 29, 2013 

— St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook, who is currently facing federal firearm and drug charges, submitted his resignation Wednesday morning.

Chief Judge John Baricevic said he received the letter by hand from Thomas Q. Keefe III, Cook's attorney, before 8:30 a.m. Cook was charged last week in federal court with possessing heroin and having a gun while using a controlled substance. Thomas Q. Keefe and his son Thomas Q. Keefe III will join Bill Lucco on Cook's defense team.

Keefe III signed the letter stating that "Cook was away in treatment."

Cook is receiving treatment at Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center in Center City, Minn.

Joe Tybor, spokesman for the Illinois Supreme Court, stated that his office had not received a letter from Cook tendering his resignation and neither had the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts.

The Illinois Supreme Court will pick Cook's replacement on the bench.

Baricevic confirmed on Tuesday that Cook's office has been vacated and was "being cleaned." Other court personnel stated that the office was being packed up, cleaned and painted.

Cook has been the subject of a federal investigation. He was arrested a week ago at a home on North 38th Street in Belleville where a friend and former client live. That man, Sean McGilvery, 34, was charged late Thursday with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute heroin. His arraignment is set for Thursday.

On Tuesday, St. Clair County Probation Officer James K. Fogarty, 45, of Belleville, appeared in federal court to answer to charges of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. He pleaded not guilty and waived his preliminary hearing. He remains in federal custody until a bond hearing set for next week.

During an interview with FBI agent Joe Murphy at Fogarty's home, Fogarty said he used cocaine with Cook and newly elected Associate Circuit Judge Joe Christ, who was a longtime St. Clair County prosecutor.

Fogarty told Murphy that he sold an "eight ball of cocaine," or about an eighth of an ounce, to the judges with each paying about $140 apiece. The cocaine was purchased by the judges the day before Christ was found dead at Cook's family's hunting cabin in Pike County, Ill. The Pike County sheriff has said that Christ died of cocaine toxicity.

Outside of Forgarty's hearing on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Steve Wigginton said the investigation was ongoing and not limited to the St. Clair County Courthouse. He encouraged anyone with information to come forward.

Belleville News-Democrat is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service