'What's the difference between him and me -- the black robe?': Former addict resents being sent to prison by Cook

News-DemocratJune 6, 2013 

Sheila Young admits feeding her 20-year crack cocaine habit by repeatedly shoplifting in Fairview Heights, but said she resents being sent to state prison by a judge who is now getting treatment for his heroin habit.

To add insult to injury, she said her probation officer was James Fogarty, the man who prosecutors said sold drugs to former Circuit Judge Michael Cook.

"And he got to go to a treatment center," Young said of Cook. "That is not fair to me. What's the difference between him and me -- the black robe? I think he should go to prison like he made me do. I think his penalty should be stiff because he's held to a higher standard as a judge."

Young's son, Marlon Miller, was suspected in a rape and robbery at an East St. Louis MetroLink station but was cleared this week when his family financed a DNA test. It was another of her sons who helped the 53-year-old get clean by refusing to bail her out of jail when she was popped for retail theft on Aug. 29, 2011.

"He told me that he was going to leave me in jail at least 30 days so I could get clean," she said.

She decided she was finished with drugs. She said she went to treatment for 42 days and has been clean since.

During the time she was in the St. Clair County Jail, Young said many of the women told her Cook was a good judge and was lenient on drug offenders.

"I was trying to get probation. My attorney and I thought since I did everything I was told to do that I would be put on probation," Young said.

She passed her drug tests and was going to school, she said. She had letters from educators, community leaders and counselors about how well she was doing.

She said none of it mattered to Cook when she appeared before him on Feb. 16, 2012.

"He sent me straight to prison even though I was doing good. He told me that I was doing so good on the streets that I would do good in the Department of Corrections," Young said. "He sentenced me to two years at the women's prison in Dwight and told me I could go to school there and get treatment."

She was released from state prison after six months because of credit for time served without problems and for time served in jail.

"He was the drug court judge and he was using drugs. He used his power to send people he could to jail for their offenses. That is not right," Young said.

When asked about Young's case, St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly said: "We're looking at every case. We'll take any motion filed by any defendant one-by-one and in light of the law and facts of each case."

Young said judges and others in law enforcement need to face drug tests.

"Those who have our lives in their hands need to be randomly drug tested," Young said. "They think because they are so powerful, they can do anything to us."

She said her years of putting fancy wheels on drug dealers' cars, pools in their back yards and gold in their mouths are over. She wants to help others get off drugs and maybe become a counselor.

"I know what drugs will do to you," Young said.

She said it was sad that Cook was finally caught because new Circuit Judge Joe Christ died from cocaine at Cook's family cabin.

"Because of what he and the other judge were doing somebody lost a father, an uncle, a brother," Young said.

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