Figure in courthouse drug scandal expected to plead guilty

News-DemocratOctober 24, 2013 

Booking photo of St. Clair County probation officer James Fogarty.

WASHINGTON CO. SHERIFF'S DEPT. — Washington Co. Sheriff's Dept.

— Former St. Clair County Probation Officer James K. Fogarty is scheduled to plead guilty to federal drug charges on Nov. 6.

Prosecutors charged Fogarty, 46, of Belleville, after he told a federal agent that he used cocaine with and sold cocaine to Mike Cook, who was then a St. Clair County Circuit Judge, according to court documents filed in Fogarty's case.

Fogarty has been on house arrest since June 4. Clyde Kuehn, Fogarty's attorney, could not be reached for comment.

U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan is set to take Fogarty's guilty plea.

Fogarty told FBI agent Joe Murphy that he sold Cook and Joe Christ, a newly sworn associate judge and longtime prosecutor, an eighth of an ounce of cocaine days before Christ died from cocaine toxicity at Cook's Pike County hunting cabin.

Fogarty told Murphy that he remembered hoping that it wasn't an overdose when he'd heard that Christ died.

During an interview with Murphy, Fogarty related a conversation that he had with Cook a couple of days after Christ's death. Fogarty talked to Cook in his chambers and Cook told Forgarty that he heard a bang and went into the bathroom of the cabin and found Christ dead on the floor, according to the affidavit.

Pike County Sheriff and Coroner Paul Petty initially told reporters that Christ died from natural causes to protect the federal investigation. Later with approval of federal agents, he confirmed that Christ died from cocaine toxicity. A vial of cocaine fell from Christ's clothes during his autopsy.

Fogarty estimated that Cook came to his residence between 15 and 20 times and used cocaine about 10 times, according to the affidavit filed by Murphy.

The interview occurred the day after Cook was arrested outside a house on North 38th Street in Belleville. Sean McGilvery, longtime friend and former client of Cook's, stayed at the house. Last week, McGilvery pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sell heroin.

Cook was charged with possession of heroin, a misdemeanor, and being a user of controlled substance in possession of a firearm. The gun was not on Cook's person or in his car at the time of the arrest, his lawyer Bill Lucco has said.

Fogarty is also charged with being a user of a controlled substance in possession of a weapon.

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

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