EAST ST. LOUIS – Among the last 50 persons that federal prosecutors have charged with drug crimes, only former St. Clair County judge Michael Cook gained permission to place treatment ahead of prosecution.
Cook’s heroin possession case turned cold on June 19, when District Judge William Stiehl postponed his trial from July 30 to Oct. 1.
Stiehl wrote that he ruled in light of Cook’s absence for necessary medical care.
He wrote that Cook couldn’t participate meaningfully in preparing his defense.
Meanwhile, 29 of the last 50 drug defendants remained behind bars without bond as of July 24.
Defendants who gained releases on bond may have entered treatment, but their dockets don’t show it because it hasn’t delayed prosecution.
Cook also stands out from the group because grand jurors indicted all except him.
Prosecutors charged him with heroin possession on May 23.
They charged probation officer James Fogarty with distributing cocaine and charged a friend of Cook, Sean McGilvery, with distributing heroin.
Magistrate Judge Clifford Proud released Cook on bond, and Magistrate Stephen Williams released Fogarty.
Magistrate Judge Donald Wilkerson ordered detention for McGilvery.
Cook waived indictment, and Stiehl set his trial July 15.
On June 17, Cook moved to continue the trial.
His lawyer, Tom Keefe of Belleville, wrote that Cook was in a treatment facility out of state and was expected to remain for several more weeks.
“This ongoing medical treatment is at his own expense, and not at the expense of either the taxpayer or the U.S. Attorney,” he wrote.
“During this period, he is generally unreachable; additionally, preparing for trial will detract from his recovery,” he wrote.
Stiehl granted the motion on June 19.
By then, grand jurors had indicted Fogarty and McGilvery.
Grand jurors indicted them and 16 other drug defendants on June 18 and 19, including 12 in a cocaine conspiracy case.
Fogarty stands first in line among them for trial, on Aug. 26, before District Judge Michael Reagan.
District Judge David Herndon set the cocaine conspiracy trial Sept. 3.
McGilvery and three others face trials later in September.
Alleged heroin dealer Royce Spann pleaded not guilty like the rest but now plans to change his plea at a hearing on Aug. 5.
Of the 18 persons the grand jury indicted, 12 gained release on bond.
Grand jurors indicted seven drug defendants on July 9, and none of them gained release on bond.
Judges have set their trials from Sept. 9 to 17.
Grand jurors indicted nine drug defendants on July 17. Magistrates detained five and released one, with three arrest warrants still outstanding.
In 19 drug cases immediately preceding Cook’s, dating back to February, magistrates detained 12 and released six, with one warrant outstanding.
Two from that group await sentencing.
Juan Gamino-Salinas pleaded guilty of possessing methamphetamine with intent to deliver in June, three months after his indictment.
Tialandus Watson pleaded guilty of distributing crack cocaine in June, a month after his indictment.
Seven defendants await a joint trial on a cocaine conspiracy indictment from May 9.
District Judge Michael Reagan set the trial Sept. 23.