Former judge Cook, facing heroin charge, agrees to suspension of law license

News-DemocratJuly 29, 2013 

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

DERIK HOLTMANN/BND — Derik Holtmann/BND

Former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Mike Cook, who is facing federal charges of possessing heroin, has agreed to a suspension of his law license.

The Illinois Supreme Court approved the suspension on July 15. A copy of the suspension was filed in U.S. District Court on Friday.

The order states Cook was charged with a crime involving moral turpitude. Cook signed an affidavit that he "freely and voluntarily agreed to the entry of an order suspending him on an interim basis, effective immediately ... " the order states.

By agreeing to the suspension, the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission won't compel Cook to answer the charges under oath, perhaps causing him to incriminate himself in the criminal case. It also halts any independent fact-finding by the ARDC until after the criminal investigation and prosecution of the case.

After a finding in his criminal case, Cook may go through disciplinary proceedings before the ARDC or choose to surrender his law license, said James Grogan, deputy administrator and chief counsel for the ARDC. Cook is in a drug-treatment facility in Minnesota.

Thomas Q. Keefe III, one of Cook's criminal defense lawyers who signed the affidavit on Cook's behalf, said it isn't clear what Cook may do with respect to his law license.

"We are just trying to take this one day at a time," Keefe said. "What's going to happen in the future with respect to that is not clear."

Cook was arrested by federal agents on May 22 outside a home on North 38th Street in Belleville where Sean McGilvery, Cook's friend and former client, resided. Federal agents said Cook was in possession of heroin. McGilvery was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute heroin.

Cook filed a lawsuit on behalf of McGilvery in 1999 after the client was involved in an auto crash. The case settled for $6,000. Twelve years later, Cook sat as a judge in a case of possession of cocaine against McGilvery. Cook ordered on May 29 that McGilvery's drug case be dismissed after McGilvery attended drug treatment. The case originally was before another judge but later was reassigned to Cook, court documents show.

The agreed petition also makes reference to charges filed against former St. Clair County Probation Officer James Fogarty. Fogarty told federal agents, according to an affidavit filed by FBI agent Joe Murphy, that he sold cocaine to Cook.

Fogarty also told the FBI agent that he used cocaine with Cook and Joe Christ, a longtime St. Clair County prosecutor who was appointed as an associate judge. Christ died within two weeks of that appointment, as a result of a cocaine overdose at Cook's hunting cabin in Pike County.

Cook was appointed as an associate judge in St. Clair County in 2007. He was elected as a circuit judge in 2010.

Cook's suspension went into effect on July 15 and will continue until further order of the Supreme Court.

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