Criminal Justice

'Wide open' probe ongoing into alleged sale of coke 'eight-ball' to 2 judges by probation officer


A probe is ongoing in the case of a probation officer accused of selling part of a cocaine “eight-ball” to two Illinois state-court jurists, one of whom died from the effects of the drug not long afterward. The other judge has resigned following a not-guilty plea in federal court on Tuesday.

James K. Fogarty, who works in St. Clair County’s probation department, faces charges of cocaine distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, the News-Democrat reports.

The surviving jurist, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook, sent a letter through his attorney tendering his resignation to the circuit’s chief judge on Wednesday morning, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Cook, 43, pleaded not guilty Friday to a federal misdemeanor heroin possession charge and having a gun (possibly a hunting weapon) while illegally using controlled substances. Apparently still wearing the same clothes in which he was arrested Wednesday, he appeared in court in Belleville wearing cut-off jeans and a T-shirt that read “Bad is my middle name,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported earlier.

Released on $10,000 recognizance bond, he is reportedly an in-patient at a drug-treatment facility. His cases were reassigned to another judge last week.

The other jurist, former prosecutor Joe Christ, 49, who assumed the bench in St. Clair County earlier this year, died March 10 in Cook’s rural hunting cabin near the Mississippi River. Pike County Sheriff Paul Petty, who also serves as county coroner, confirmed Friday that Christ’s death was accidental and a result of cocaine intoxication, the News-Democrat said.

FBI Special Agent Joseph Murphy said in an affidavit that Fogarty admitted selling cocaine to the two judges on multiple occasions, the Post-Dispatch reports. Fogarty allegedly snorted cocaine with the two judges before selling each the remainder of an “eight-ball”–so called because it weighs an eighth of an ounce–for $275 before Christ’s final trip to the hunting cabin.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday around the time of Fogarty’s arraignment, U.S. Attorney Steve Wigginton said an investigation is ongoing and gaining momentum, the News-Democrat reports.

“It’s wide open and not limited to the St. Clair County Courthouse,” he continued, adding: “Anyone with information about this is asked to come forward. It’s better for you to come forward than for us to come and find you.”

An Associated Press article provides additional details.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Sitting judge is held and under federal investigation”

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