How deep does drug scandal go? Ex-probation officer implicates 'prominent' people

News-DemocratJune 4, 2013 

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook during his swearing in ceremony in 2010.

DERIK HOLTMANN/BND

— In asking a judge not to release a former St. Clair County probation officer on bond, a federal prosecutor said the defendant "implicated a number of prominent people up in Belleville and the area around."

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Porter said the government was concerned that these people might encourage James K. Fogarty, of Belleville, to flee so that he could not further implicate them. He said Fogarty, in his job as a probation officer, committed "a jaw-dropping and extraordinary breach of trust," and is a flight risk.

Porter made the comments Wednesday during a bond hearing for Fogarty, who is charged with distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Fogarty was released on a $10,000 recognizance bond and placed on electronic monitoring and home confinement with further restrictions that he not do any illegal drugs.

Last week, he pleaded not guilty. Since his arrest, he lost his job as a probation officer and was ordered by U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Williams to seek employment.

Fogarty's attorney, Clyde Kuehn, said after the hearing he was unaware of some statements his client was said to have made to investigators about prominent Belleville residents which a prosecutor mentioned in court.

Kuehn said he needed to find out "what all Jim Fogarty has said to the authorities."

U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton said after the hearing that police and prosecutors continue to work the case.

"It remains a wide-open investigation as I said last week. ... There are agents out in the field as we speak," Wigginton said.

Wigginton declined to answer a question about whether the investigation had gone beyond Illinois.

During a statement to Williams, Clyde Kuehn said his client cooperated with FBI agents who confronted and questioned him in his garage May 22. Fogarty was arrested two days later.

Kuehn said in court Tuesday that during the questioning, Fogarty told them about receiving a text message from Associate Judge Joe Christ requesting 1.5 grams of cocaine. There was no mention of exactly when Christ sent the text.

Williams told Fogarty that he could face more charges if indicted by a federal grand jury.

Circuit Judge Michael Cook and Christ bought drugs from Fogarty on March 9, the day before the 49-year-old Christ died of cocaine toxicity at a Pike County hunting cabin owned by Cook's family, according to a sworn statement Fogarty gave to the FBI shortly after his arrest. Fogarty told a federal investigator he sold an "eight ball," or one-eighth of an ounce of cocaine, to the judges for $275.

Cook, who resigned his judgeship, was arrested May 22 outside a residence on North 38th Street in Belleville, where an alleged heroin dealer and former client of Cook's lives. Cook is charged with one misdemeanor count of heroin possession and a felony count of being a user of heroin while in possession of a firearm.

Cook pleaded not guilty in federal court and was released on a $10,000 recognizance bond. He is in a drug treatment program in Minnesota.

Cook and Christ would join Fogarty at home to use cocaine, according to a statement Fogarty gave to FBI Special Agent Joe Murphy. In the statement, Fogarty also stated he once joined Cook and Christ to do cocaine at the spacious hunting cabin near the small community of Pleasant Hill, Ill.

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