ST. LOUIS – Former St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Mike Cook pleaded guilty to heroin and weapons charges on Friday, News 4 has confirmed.
Cook, 43, who previously pleaded not guilty, changed his plea to guilty during a hearing in U.S. District Court. He was initially scheduled to go on trial Dec. 9.
Cook was charged in May with possessing heroin and having a gun while illegally using controlled substances after being arrested in Belleville at the home of Sean McGilvery, who later pleaded guilty to dealing heroin.
Earlier in May, 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 the evening of 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. On Thursday, Fogarty 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.