On Friday, Circuit Judge Michael Cook of St. Clair County in southwestern Illinois pleaded not guilty to federal counts of possessing heroin and having a firearm while being an illegal user of controlled substances. Cook has been released on his own recognizance on the condition that he attend drug treatment if required, give up his passport, and avoid any firearms and drugs not prescribed to him. Though Cook still remains a judge, his office has been sealed and Chief Circuit Judge John Baricevic has reassigned Cook’s 225-250 case docket.
Both the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration are involved in this investigation and have searched Cook’s home, court office, cabin, and the home of Sean D. McGilvery, where Cook was arrested. McGilvery, a former client of Cook’s, was charged late Thursday in federal court with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute heroin. In 2011, Cook sat as judge in a case of cocaine possession against McGilvery and Cook ordered that the case be dismissed after the man attended drug treatment.
This arrest comes after Cook was already under scrutiny regarding the death of hiscolleague, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Joe Christ. Christ overdosed on cocaine while staying with Cook at his family cabin in western Illinois and his death has been ruled as accidental. Also on Friday, St. Clair County Probation Office employee James K. Fogarty was charged by criminal complaint in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis with distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Fogarty has been found to be the dealer who sold cocaine to Judges Christ and Cook the day before Christ and Cook headed to the cabin where Christ died.
Probably the biggest crime of all was that Cook pleaded not guilty while wearing cutoff jean shorts and a t-shirt that read “Bad is my middle name.”