Illinois judge resigns after charges of possessing heroin

Reuters News
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Posted: May 29, 2013 8:59 PM
Illinois judge resigns after charges of possessing heroin

By Brendan O'Brien

(Reuters) - An Illinois judge resigned on Wednesday, days after he was charged in federal court with possession of heroin and weeks after a fellow judge died of a cocaine overdose while the two were on a hunting trip.

Michael Cook submitted his resignation as a St. Clair County Circuit Court judge and is now undergoing treatment for drug abuse, said his attorney, Thomas Keefe.

Cook has been involved with two drug-related incidents in recent months.

Cook was arrested on May 22 at the home of an alleged heroin dealer and faces heroin possession and gun charges, according to attorneys and court records.

The second incident occurred on March 10, when Cook called 911 from his hunting cabin after he found St. Clair County Judge Joe Christ, 49, dead in a bathroom, according to Paul Petty, the coroner and sheriff in Pike County, Illinois.

Petty said Christ died from using cocaine. Drugs and weapons were found at the cabin as part of the investigation, which remains open.

No charges have been filed in Christ's death.

A probation officer who also worked for the county said he sold the judges about $275 worth of cocaine before they went to the cabin, and he sold cocaine to Cook 15 to 20 times, according to an affidavit filed in federal court.

The probation officer, James Fogarty, faces federal drug charges.

Cook has been scheduled to face trial on July 30 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; Editing by David Bailey and Lisa Shumaker)