Cook's plea will either close book on investigation or start new chapter

By Steve Korris | Nov 1, 2013


Former St. Clair County judge Michael Cook plans to plead guilty of heroin possession on Friday, Nov. 8.

U.S. District Judge Billy Joe McDade of Peoria posted notice on Oct. 31, that he would hear Cook change his plea at 1:30 p.m. on Friday.

At that point, U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton will have convicted every defendant he has identified in connection with drug dealing that led to the death of judge Joe Christ.

Cook found Christ’s body on March 10, in the Pike County hunting lodge of Cook’s father, Belleville lawyer Bruce Cook.

Chief Judge John Baricevic said Christ died of natural causes, and Senator Dick Durbin said the same in a memorial tribute on the Senate floor.

In May, Pike County sheriff Paul Petty said Christ died of cocaine intoxication.

On May 22, drug agents arrested Cook at the home of Sean McGilvery in Belleville.

They arrested McGilvery and charged him with distributing heroin.

They separately arrested probation officer James Fogarty, after showing him text messages that implicated him as Christ’s cocaine dealer.

Prosecution briefs showed agents had started an investigation of St. Clair County drug traffic last November.

Agents arrested Deborah Perkins of Fairview Heights in January, after a confidential source told them she would step off a bus in St. Louis with a load of heroin.

Prosecutors indicted her in February, as director of a heroin sales team.

They indicted her son, Douglas Oliver, and Eric Beckley of Centreville, as dealers under her direction.

After agents arrested McGilvery, prosecutors identified him as a dealer for Perkins.

Perkins and Oliver pleaded guilty in August, and await sentencing in December.

McGilvery pleaded guilty on Oct. 17, and awaits sentencing in February.

Beckley pleaded guilty on Oct. 31, and awaits sentencing in March.

Fogarty plans to plead guilty of cocaine distribution on Wednesday, Nov. 6, before District Judge Michael Reagan.

Cook’s plea will either close the book on the investigation or start a new chapter.

Wigginton has indicted dozens of drug defendants this year without indicating whether he caught them in the same investigation that caught Cook.

One such connection popped up from the mass on Oct. 18, when Augustus Stacker of Belleville pleaded guilty of cocaine distribution.

He and the government stipulated that he supplied cocaine to Fogarty, and that one of their transactions was audio recorded on May 23.

The stipulation suggested that the investigation continues, by declaring that Stacker bought cocaine from “persons in the Southern District of Illinois.”

Another sign of ongoing investigation appeared in a detention order that Magistrate Judge Stephen Williams signed for Beckley.

Williams afforded him “reasonable opportunity for private consultation with counsel,” which a defendant would not normally need after pleading guilty.

Williams wrote that by court order or on request of a government attorney, Beckley’s prison warden must deliver him to a U.S. marshal “for the purpose of an appearance in connection with a court proceeding.”

By coincidence or not, two men in the mass of defendants pleaded guilty on Oct. 31.

Michael Scott Jr., stipulated that he sold an ounce of cocaine to a confidential informant for $1,400, on July 2 in WashingtonPark.

Deanthony Tillman stipulated that he sold two grams of crack to a confidential informant for $200, on June 27 in East St. Louis.

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