U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan sentenced former St. Clair County probation officer to five years in prison for supplying cocaine to the late judge Joseph Christ who died of cocaine intoxification on March 10.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney James Porter said the government found "no credible evidence" that Fogarty's crimes led to the death of Christ or caused serious bodily harm to anyone.
Christ died while in the company of former circuit judge Michael Cook on a weekend get-away at a Cook family-owned hunting lodge in Pike County. Two months later, Cook and Fogarty were arrested separately on drug and weapons charges in a scandal that rocked the courthouse.
At Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Porter said there was no way to prove nor did prosecutors believe that a "real small amount" of cocaine Fogarty provided two days before Christ died caused death.
Reagan had indicated weeks ago that he would reject the proposed five-year sentence reached in a plea agreement if there was credible evidence that “but for” Fogarty’s distribution Christ would not have died.
As the courthouse drug-related cases have unfolded, Porter said the government has taken a lot of time and looked at a lot of records "to unravel" circumstances "of the unfortunate death of Judge Christ."
He said prosecutors spent "hours and hours" looking at records such as Christ's autopsy and toxicology reports. The U.S. Attorney also hired an expert in cocaine intoxification to examine records, he said.
When asked after the hearing who provided the cocaine that caused Christ's death, Porter said he did not know. He also said it was a question he could not answer.
Reagan said the sentence was "significant" and was one that would send a signal.
In a Feb. 14 order, he said five years was not “disparate” compared to defendants in related cases - drug dealers Sean McGilvery and Augustus Stacker – who received sentences at the low end of the applicable guideline range.
McGilvery was sentenced to 10 years in prison Jan. 23 over his role in a drug ring that involved Cook as a drug buyer.
Stacker, who supplied cocaine to Fogarty, was sentenced to eight months in prison on Jan. 31
Cook, who according to court documents was an almost daily buyer of heroin from McGilvery, was to be sentenced Feb. 26, but U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade rejected a proposed 18-month sentence saying it was not “sufficient.”
Reagan distinguished Fogarty from the "gang bangers" he sees in his court "who wear felony convictions like badges of honor." He said that Fogarty had an “extremely” clean record but made an “extremely” bad mistake. The likelihood of recidivism for Fogarty is low, Reagan said.
"I don't understand addiction," he said, but added that he deals with it every day.
"Addiction can explain things, but will not excuse things."
Fogarty's 's attorney Clyde Kuehn of Belleville said six months of sobriety has been an "epiphany" for his client.
He said Fogarty has realized the "egregiousness" of his conduct as a probation officer and officer of the court.
Fogarty, who has been in custody and was clothed in yellow prison garb, chose not to offer allocution. Kuehn said his client was not one to get up in public and speak.
Kuehn described Fogarty as a "very likable, pleasant, good natured person."
Though his conduct was “not an aberration,” Kuehn called it “a puzzling moment time."
He said Fogarty hoped to return to society so he can again support his family.
"I think he feels like the luckiest man in the world...to have family and friends who have supported him through this ordeal,” Kuehn said.
In addition to a five year prison sentence, Reagan upped Fogarty's supervised release from three to six years "so you will know I will be here if you screw up." If he completes three years of release successfully he can petition the court to relieve him of the remaining three years.
Kuehn asked that Fogarty be incarcerated at a prison camp in Pensacola, Fla. rather than in Marion because some of the inmates in Marion were people he supervised as a probation officer.
Reagan imposed a light $500 fine and a $200 special assessment.
Kuehn asked if Fogarty's wife and family could speak with him before he was led away by the U.S. Marshal’s service. Reagan consented but advised that the parties must sit across from one another at the defense table and not touch one another.