Federal judge rejects plea deal for disgraced ex-St. Clair County judge

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by KMOV.com staff

KMOV.com

Posted on February 26, 2014 at 7:15 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 27 at 7:23 AM

(KMOV) – A federal judge rejected former St. Clair County judge's plea deal to heroin and gun charges. 

Under his agreement with prosecutors he agreed to a year and a half prison sentence. But on Wednesday, a federal judge rejected the deal saying it wasn’t enough hard time for the ex-judge.

Judge Joe Billy McDade said there are a number of things to consider, including the number of cases Cook presided over as judge of the county drug court. McDade is also looking into the amount of time Cook was using heroin before he sought treatment.

Since his arrest, several of Cook’s cases have been thrown out, overturned or have to be retried.

Cook was charged in May 2013 after being arrested in Belleville at the home of Sean McGilvery, who later pleaded guilty to dealing heroin.

Earlier that month, the county coroner said toxicology tests showed that Cook’s colleague, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Joe Christ, overdosed on cocaine while staying with Cook at the Cook family’s 2,500-square-foot cabin near the Mississippi River in western Illinois.

The 49-year-old father of six was found dead in a bathroom at the lodge near Pleasant Hill, about 65 miles from St. Louis, on March 10 - little more than a week after he was sworn in as a judge.

St. Clair County probation worker James Fogarty later told investigators he snorted cocaine with the two judges and repeatedly sold them the drug, including on the eve of the trip to the hunting cabin. Fogarty later pleaded guilty in federal court to possession with intent to distribute cocaine and unlawful possession of a firearm.

A federal judge later said he won’t accept Fogarty’s deal to serve five years in prison if testing shows the man’s drugs were the ones that killed a Christ. 

Neither Fogarty nor Cook has been charged directly in Christ’s death.

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