Steve Korris Sep. 24, 2013, 8:59am

EAST ST. LOUIS-- U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade granted former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook a delay in his heroin possession trial from Oct. 1 to Dec. 9.

"The Court finds that it would be in the best interests of justice and the defendant to continue the trial in this matter and that it is necessary to allow the defense attorney the opportunity to further prepare for trial, including reviewing discovery and completing plea negotiations," McDade wrote on Sept. 23.

Cook's lawyers, Bill Lucco and Thomas Keefe, III moved at a pretrial conference to continue the trial. McDade told them to contact his chambers in Peoria if Cook wishes to plead guilty before Dec. 9.

U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton charged Cook in May with possession of heroin and being an unlawful user of a controlled substance in possession of firearms. Cook entered a not guilty plea to both charges and waived indictment

District Judge William Stiehl set trial for July, but continued it to Oct. 1 so Cook could seek treatment.

Stiehl ordered Lucco and Keefe to notify him upon Cook's return. Nothing on the court docket shows he has returned, nor do minutes of McDade's conference.

Stiehl recused himself in August, and Chief Judge David Herndon appointed McDade on Sept. 11.

Thomas Keefe, Jr. entered an appearance for Cook on Sept. 24, joining Keefe III and Lucco.

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