War on Drugs

Judge Rejects Drug Court Judge's 1.5 Year Plea Deal, Demands 2 Years Instead


benefited from drug war till it ensnared him

Last May, Michael Cook, a drug court judge in St. Clair County, Illinois, was charged with possession of heroin and having a gun while using an illegal controlled substance. He eventually plead guilty in exchange for an 18 month prison sentence. But then, earlier this year, according to KMOV:

A federal judge rejected the deal, saying it wasn't enough hard time for the ex-judge.

Judge Joe Billy McDade said regarding his sentence there are a number of things to consider, including the number of cases Cook presided over as judge of the county drug court. McDade is also looking into the amount of time Cook was using heroin before he sought treatment.

Since his arrest, several of Cook's cases have been thrown out, overturned or have to be retried.

Sentencing was on Friday, and Cook was instead given a "long" 2-year term because, according to Judge McDade, Cook "undermined the rule of law." He will also have to pay for the cost of his confinement and subsequent 3-year supervised release, as well as a $10,000 fine.

The drug court judge initially came under scrutiny by law enforcement officials after another St. Clair County judge, Joe Christ, overdosed on cocaine at Cook's family cabin just a week after being sworn in as judge. And there's more, via KMOV again:

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. Fogarty later 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. 

"Enhanced" sentences for non-violent drug possession (or sale) that include possession of a firearm are common around the country, even though so long as the drug trade remains within the black market, firearms are needed to prevent fraud, enforce contracts, and support other business practices for which an attorney would suffice in non-criminalized industries.

In fact, Cook's possession charge was a misdemeanor; he admitted to possessing about a gram of heroin when arrested in front of his alleged drug dealer's house. Cook's felony charge was mere possession of a firearm while using heroin. Illinois sentencing guidelines call for up to 15 additional years if a firearm is used while committing a drug or other offense.