Posted Jan 22, 2014 06:30 pm CST
Federal prosecutors are seeking a 10- to 11-year prison term for a man who admittedly sold heroin to a downstate Illinois judge and 18 months for the jurist in a heroin possession and weapons case.
But a federal district court judge presiding over the drug cases appears poised for a possible upward departure from one of the prison terms agreed to in plea deals. Judge Joe Billy McDade has asked the U.S. Probation Office to prepare a supplemental presentence investigation report on former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook, according to the News-Democrat. An earlier News-Democrat article provides additional details on the cases against Cook and Sean D. McGilvery.
McGilvery, who could get from 10 years to as much as life in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin, is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday. Cook faces sentencing in February.
The presentence investigation report concerning Cook is under seal, but McDade explains his thinking in a Jan. 8 order, reports the Madison-St. Clair Record.
“The court may wish to consider whether an upward variance may be appropriate in this case. … Specifically, the defendant was a circuit court judge and presided over cases involving the very conduct for which he is now convicted,” McDade wrote. “The potential impact of his conduct, in how it may have affected trials he presided over and sentences he imposed while addicted to illegal substances, are immeasurable yet cannot be ignored. In addition, based on his position in the community, his actions erode public confidence in the judicial system.”
McGilvery is a former legal client of Cook’s, and admittedly sold the judge heroin “almost daily,” the News-Democrat reported.
Recently unsealed FBI agent court affidavits allege, based on information from unidentified informants, that Cook, who assumed the bench in 2007 and routinely presided over drug cases, himself used drugs on hundreds of occasions. One identified defendant, Justin D. Cahill, told the feds he expected to get less time for a felony driving-under-the-influence case (Cahill’s fourth such case) because he supplied OxyContin pills to Cook, another News-Democrat article reported earlier this month.
Cahill was sentenced by Cook to three months in jail and probation. Cook’s lead lawyer, J. William Lucco of Edwardsville, did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.
Another downstate Illinois judge, Joe Christ, died of cocaine toxicity last year at a hunting cabin owned by Cook’s parents.
ABAJournal.com: “Anguish of judge in 911 tape who can’t revive unconscious colleague echos emotion of court onlookers”
ABAJournal.com: “Ex-probation officer to get 5 years in cocaine case … unless he supplied drug that killed judge”
ABAJournal.com: “2nd convicted murderer wins retrial due to drug case now faced by presiding judge”