Figure in courthouse drug scandal pleads guilty

News-DemocratAugust 21, 2013 

Douglas W. Oliver, one of the defendants linked to the St. Clair County courthouse drug scandal, pleaded guilty to federal distribution of heroin charges on Wednesday.

Oliver, 47, formerly of Fairview Heights, entered the plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford J. Proud.

Oliver was charged along with his mother, Deborah Perkins, in a three-count indictment of the federal charges of conspiracy to distribute heroin, possession with intent to distribute heroin and maintaining a drug involved premises.

"How do you feel today?" Proud asked Oliver before accepting his plea.

"Nervous," he responded.

"Outside of that?" Proud asked.

"Great. Great. Wonderful," Oliver responded.

Oliver could face up to life in prison on the federal charges. In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to recommend the low end of the sentencing range, 30 years.

Oliver also agreed to forfeit any interest in a home at 20 Kassing Drive in Fairview Heights.

Oliver's sentencing is set for Dec. 13 before U.S. District Judge David Herndon.

Perkins traveled to Chicago to purchase heroin with Oliver occasionally putting in some money, according to court documents. Perkins would give Oliver heroin to sell, then have him repay her.

"(Oliver) would deliver heroin for Perkins to others, such as Sean McGilvery in Belleville, IL," the court document stated. "McGilvery was one of Perkins' principal subdealers."

Sometimes, Oliver would deliver messages for Perkins to those subdealers about prospective heroin sales, the documents stated.

Former Circuit Judge Mike Cook, 43, was arrested outside McGilvery's home on North 38th Street in Belleville in May. He was later charged in federal court with misdemeanor heroin possession and a felony weapons charge. His trial is scheduled to begin on Oct. 1.

Perkins, 65, pleaded guilty earlier this month. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 8. She could receive 27 years in prison if the conspiracy can be linked to the overdose deaths of 30-year-old Jessica Williams, whose body was found in Washington Park, or 20-year-old Jennifer Herling, who died from an overdose at Perkins' and Oliver's home on Kassing Drive in Fairview Heights.

Oliver is facing more time than his mother due to previous drug convictions. Oliver was convicted in 2002 of possession with intent to deliver cocaine. He was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison on the charge, where he had to spend at least 85 percent of his sentence before he was eligible for release. In 2006, a petition to revoke his parole was filed because Oliver was arrested on cocaine and heroin possession.

Both Perkins and Oliver face state charges for concealing the body of Williams. Those charges are pending.

In a court document filed in federal court on Wednesday, it stated that in March 2012, Oliver gave Williams a small amount of heroin. It further stated that on Sept. 28 or 29, he gave Herling a small amount of heroin.

Both women later died.

"(Oliver) did not sell the heroin in question .... and never intended to harm (them)," the document stated.

Despite the lengthy sentences Oliver and Perkins are expected to receive in federal court, relatives of Herling and Williams who attended Thursday's hearing encouraged St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly to continue prosecution on the state case.

"Doug and his mom aren't the only heroin dealers in St. Clair County," said Cindy Farris, Herling's older sister. "He needs to make an example of them."

Charges against Perkins and Oliver are still being pursued, Kelly said. State prosecutors were working hand in hand with federal prosecutors so that they didn't interfere with the federal prosecution strategy.

"Five defendants were charged last week on heroin-dealing and related charges," Kelly said. "So the fight goes on."

Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at bhundsdorfer@bnd.com or 618-239-2570.

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