FBI agent found probable cause that Cook possessed drugs with intent to distribute

By The Madison County Record | Jul 24, 2014


Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Julie Neiger found probable cause to believe former St. Clair County judge Michael Cook possessed drugs with intent to distribute them and conspired to distribute them, she swore last year.

An affidavit she signed on April 9, 2013, portrayed Cook as partner of heroin dealer Sean McGilvery rather than customer as their eventual guilty pleas would indicate.

It shows AT&T provided McGilvery’s records on March 11, 2013, a day after St. Clair County associate judge Joe Christ died at Cook’s hunting lodge near Pittsfield.

Neiger filed the affidavit to obtain a warrant for satellite tracking of Cook’s cell phone.

She asked for a 30 day delay in notice, writing that immediate notice would give him an opportunity to destroy evidence, change behavior patterns and flee from prosecution.

She filed a similar affidavit on McGilvery, writing that he and Cook communicated on their cell phones more than 2,000 times in a year.

Her affidavits provide evidence of drug dealing beyond the evidence that news outlets reported months ago from Neiger’s affidavit for a warrant to search Cook’s home.

The warrant for the home search involved a drug user owning weapons, while the warrant for tracking involved drug dealing.

The Record found the tracking warrants by conducting an Internet search of Cook’s phone number.

Cook’s number appeared in the public record of an investigation that Pike County sheriff and coroner Paul Petty conducted on Christ’s death.

Petty determined that Christ died from cocaine intoxication. He questioned Cook twice in the following week, and Cook admitted he used drugs.

Petty’s investigation connected to one that Neiger and other agents pursued over deaths from drug overdoses at the home of Deborah Perkins in Fairview Heights.

Agents who had arrested Perkins and son Douglas Oliver at the home on Jan. 21, 2013, found McGilvery on the premises.

Neiger blended the investigations in her April 9 affidavit.

She quoted drug dealer Justin Cahill saying in 2011 that drug dealer Buck Reamer obtained OxyContin pills from Cahill and gave them to Cook.

Neiger wrote that Cahill said Reamer arranged for assignment to Cook of his charge of driving under the influence.

She wrote that Cook shuffled Cahill’s paperwork to the bottom of the stack.

“Cahill believed that by supplying more OxyContin pills to Reamer for Judge Cook, Cahill received less jail time for his felony DUIs,” Neiger wrote.

She wrote that his third DUI case was assigned to Cook and continued multiple times over four years, with Cahill ultimately receiving a sentence of only three months.

On Nov. 29, 2012, a cooperating individual provided information that Perkins later corroborated, she wrote.

“McGilvery did not sell heroin out of his home, but met with individuals at local stores to conduct the drug transactions,” Neiger wrote.

“McGilvery would generally meet individuals at his house if they wanted to purchase large amounts of heroin such as 20 grams or more.

“McGilvery was also using, selling, and trading cocaine, crack cocaine, and prescription pills such as Xanax and methadone.”

In 2012, Perkins and Oliver were charged with concealing a death. The case was transferred to Cook.

Neiger wrote that on Feb. 8, 2013, Perkins told agents that McGilvery once went to Chicago alone and purchased 25 grams of heroin.

“Sometime around Thanksgiving 2011, Perkins and McGilvery’s business relationship changed in that they stopped pooling their money,” she wrote.

She wrote that Perkins believed McGilvery stopped selling heroin directly seven or eight months earlier and distributed it through Matt Heuer.

“In addition, every month for the past five or six years, Perkins and McGilvery have purchased 100 methadone pills from a friend of Perkins,” she wrote. Perkins kept 50 and gave 50 to McGilvery.

On Feb. 14, 2013, Oliver told agents he asked McGilvery to get rid of 10 grams of heroin because he was on probation and didn’t want to get in trouble. McGilvery gave Oliver $1,000 for the heroin, she wrote.

She wrote that McGilvery paid Oliver for 30 methadone pills per month.

She wrote that Cook’s phone contacted McGilvery’s phone twice on March 8, and McGilvery’s phone contacted Cook’s phone at 8:49 a.m. on March 9.

She wrote that McGilvery’s phone had multiple contacts with Christ’s phone on Jan. 20, a day before the arrest of Perkins and Oliver, and on Jan. 29.

Christ was a prosecutor in the State’s Attorney’s office at that time. He was appointed associate judge in late February 2013.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Proud approved tracking for 30 days, finding it probably would lead to evidence of offenses and identification of individuals committing them.

On May 8, Neiger applied for 30 more days of tracking.

She wrote that a review showed more than 35 communications between Cook’s phone and McGilvery’s phone from April 6 to 8, and more than 80 from April 13 to May 4.

Both phones were in close proximity to McGilvery’s home nine times in 24 days, and that surveillance confirmed Cook’s presence there 10 times in 21 days, she wrote.

Proud approved tracking for 30 more days, but agents needed only two weeks to arrest Cook, McGilvery, and cocaine dealer James Fogarty, a county probation officer.

On May 15, Neiger sought and obtained a warrant to search Cook’s home.

Next, state police scientists who examined a “one hitter” device for snorting cocaine reported that the major DNA source fit Cook’s profile and the minor source fit Christ’s profile.

U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton charged McGilvery with distributing heroin and Fogarty with distributing cocaine.

Against Cook he filed charges of possessing heroin and using it while possessing firearms.

McGilvery pleaded guilty and serves 10 years. Fogarty pleaded guilty and serves five years.

Wigginton and Cook agreed on 18 months, but District Judge Joe McDade of Peoria rejected the agreement and imposed two years.

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