Ann Maher Jan. 29, 2014, 4:51pm

A participant in a drug ring that brought former St. Clair County judge Michael Cook to ruin is again asking for more time to respond to the federal government’s presentence report.

Eric Beckley of Centreville, who pleaded guilty in October to possessing heroin with the intent to distribute and being a felon in possession of a firearm, filed a second extension to respond on Jan. 28. U.S. District Judge David Herndon granted the request today.

Federal agents arrested Beckley in January after following heroin dealer Deborah Perkins to his home. Beckley was indicted by grand jurors in February, as was Perkins and her son Douglas Oliver. Perkins and Oliver pled guilty to heroin distribution and conspiracy charges and were sentenced in December to 27 and 30 years in prison respectively.

Agents arrested Cook in May at the home of his friend and drug supplier Sean McGilvery of Belleville on heroin possession and weapons charges. McGilvery was a dealer for Perkins. McGilvery was sentenced Jan. 23 to 10 years in prison for his role in the conspiracy.

Cook pleaded guilty in November and awaits sentencing on Feb. 26.

Beckley’s lawyer, Andrew Liefer of Fairview Heights, first asked U.S. District Judge David Herndon for more time to respond to the government’s sealed presentence report on Jan. 21, a day before his response was due.

Liefer wrote in his motion that “Defendant has identified certain issues in the Presentence Report for which the Defense needs additional time to research and investigate possible responses to same.”

Herndon gave Beckley until Feb. 5 to respond.

Liefer had stated in court papers in August that Beckley was “actively engaged in negotiations with the government and reasonably anticipates that said negotiations will be fruitful.”

U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade, who oversees Cook’s case, asked investigators on Jan. 8 to supplement Cook’s presentence report. A revised presentence report was filed on Jan. 24, and also is under seal.

McDade’s Jan. 8 directive indicated he could reject an 18-month sentence that federal prosecutors recommended for Cook.

“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.  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.”

Another St. Clair County official involved in the drug scandal, former probation officer James Fogarty, awaits sentencing Feb. 27.

Fogarty pleaded guilty in November to supplying cocaine to the late St. Clair County judge Joe Christ.

Christ, who had been a long-time county prosecutor, was associate judge for less than two weeks when he died of cocaine intoxification on March 10 at a Cook family-owned Pike County hunting lodge while in the company of Michael Cook.

Fogarty’s initial presentence report was filed on Jan. 23, also under seal.

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