Prosecutors: Cook bought heroin nearly every day from McGilvery

News-DemocratOctober 17, 2013 

Federal prosecutors said former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook purchased heroin almost daily from a Belleville man who pleaded guilty to heroin trafficking charges in federal court on Thursday morning.

Sean D. McGilvery, 34, a friend and former client of Cook's, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and possession with intent to distribute heroin and is expected to receive a 10 year prison sentence when he is sentenced in January.

In the statement of facts filed in McGilvery's case on Thursday, prosecutors stated Cook was a regular buyer of heroin.

"One of McGilvery's regular customers was Michael N. Cook, who would come to the residence at which McGilvery was staying and pick up amounts of heroin on an almost daily basis," the prosecutor's statement read.

Prosecutors did not report the time period in which Cook was getting the heroin from McGilvery.

In December 2011, Cook was the judge in a case where McGilvery was charged with possessing cocaine. Cook ordered that McGilvery complete a drug treatment program and after that occurred, the charge was dismissed.

Cook also dismissed a traffic ticket for McGilvery. Former St. Clair County State's Attorney Joe Christ recommended the dismissal on his final day as a prosecutor. Christ took the bench as an associate judge the day after McGilvery's traffic case was dismissed on Feb. 26.

Just days after becoming a judge, Christ, 49, was found dead in a Pike County hunting cabin owned by Cook's parents. He died of cocaine intoxication.

In the federal case against McGilvery, the statement of facts also outlined the conspiracy between McGilvery, Douglas Oliver, 47, and Deborah Perkins, 65. Perkins' is Oliver's mother.

McGilvery would pool his money with Perkins, who would travel to Chicago to purchase heroin. McGilvery was one of Perkins' principal subdealers, according to documents filed by federal prosecutors.

Perkins and Oliver also face state charges related to the overdose death of Jessica Williams who prosecutors said overdosed at Perkins' home at 20 Kassing Drive in Fairview Heights. Her remains were later discovered in Washington Park. Jennifer Herling, 20, died six months later from a heroin overdose at the same house.

" ... Other customers and associates of McGilvery have given voluntary statements and outlined the existence and operation of this conspiracy, as have both Perkins and Oliver," the document stated.

Perkins and Oliver have both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin and possession with intent to distribute heroin and maintaining a drug-involved premises. They are both scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 13.

McGilvery was moved recently from the St. Clair County Jail where he was being held on the federal charges. Rodney Holmes, McGilvery's lawyer, said the move wasn't due to safety concerns, but a toothache.

McGilvery was undergoing a root canal at the time of his arrest, Holmes said. The temporary filling was lost and Holmes said his client was in a great deal of pain. McGilvery was moved to the White County Jail so he could receive dental care.

McGilvery previously told the court that he was addicted to heroin went through withdrawals after his arrest, Holmes said. The first meetings between Holmes and McGilvery required a trash can in the room so McGilvery could vomit, Holmes said.

"He's doing much better now," Holmes told reporters on Thursday after the hearing.

U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan accepted McGilvery's change of plea.

In exchange for the guilty plea, federal prosecutors will recommend the minimum sentence for McGilvery -- 10 years. McGilvery also agreed to surrender five guns and ammunition to the government as part of the plea.

Cook, who represented McGilvery in a 1999 personal injury case, was charged with being a user of a controlled substance in possession of a firearm, a federal felony. The firearms were not on Cook's person or in his vehicle at the time of his arrest, but at his home, his lawyers have said.

Cook became a circuit judge in 2010, presiding over the drug court and serious felony cases that included murder cases. Cook is the son of prominent Belleville lawyer and Democratic Party supporter Bruce Cook.

Cook resigned his seat on the bench and voluntarily surrendered his law license.

In state court earlier this month, William Cosby, who was convicted of murder, received a new trial after his lawyers argued that the state should have told his lawyer about federal investigations into Cook, who presided over Crosby's trial. Gregory Muse, who was also convicted of first-degree murder in a trial presided over by Cook, has asked for a new trial, also.

Cook has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges. His trial is currently scheduled for Dec. 9.

McGilvery is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 23.

Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at or 618-239-2570.

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