ST. LOUIS -- A St. Clair County probation worker has told investigators he snorted cocaine with two judges and repeatedly sold them the drug, including on the eve of the jurists’ trip to a hunting cabin where one of them collapsed and died from an overdose, an FBI agent said.
Federal prosecutors charged James Fogarty, 45, in East St. Louis with a cocaine distribution and possession count Friday, the same day St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook pleaded not guilty during his initial appearance there on counts of possessing heroin and having a gun while illegally using controlled substances.
Fogarty was set to make his initial court appearance at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Authorities allege Fogarty peddled cocaine to Cook and Joe Christ, a former longtime prosecutor who had been sworn in as a St. Clair County judge a little more than a week before being found dead March 10 in a bathroom in the Cook family’s hunting lodge in western Illinois’ Pike County, about 65 miles northwest of St. Louis.
Pike County Coroner Paul Petty, who also serves as sheriff, said last week toxicology tests showed that Christ—a 49-year-old father of six—died of cocaine intoxication, and that Cook was the only one with him at the cabin near the Mississippi River. Petty said he anticipated ruling Christ’s death accidental.
Neither Fogarty nor Cook, 43, has been charged directly in Christ’s death, though the investigation of Christ’s demise continues.
Online court records don’t show whether Fogarty has an attorney, and calls Tuesday to his listed home telephone number in Belleville, Ill., went unanswered.
The criminal complaint against Fogarty alleges his wrongdoing took place at least between March 1 and last Thursday, when Fogarty detailed for investigators for a second straight day his drug dealings with the two judges, FBI Special Agent Joseph Murphy wrote in an affidavit.
Admitting he repeatedly sold cocaine to the two jurists, Fogarty said Christ used the drug on weekends and that Cook partook of the drug at Fogarty’s house roughly 10 times, Murphy wrote. Fogarty snorted cocaine with the two judges at times on golf trips and at least once at the Cook family’s lodge where Christ later died.
The day before Cook and Christ went off on the hunting trip from which Christ would not return alive, Fogarty snorted cocaine with the judges before giving the rest of the “eight ball”—an eighth of an ounce, or 3.5 grams—of the drug to them for $140 apiece, Murphy wrote.
Days after Christ’s death, Cook told Fogarty in Cook’s judge’s chambers that he heard a bang at the cabin, went to the bathroom and found Christ dead, Murphy said Fogarty told him. Cook never discussed with Fogarty whether any drugs were used at the cabin at that time, Murphy wrote.
Cook is free on bond. The criminal complaint alleges Cook is an addict.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.