Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Wigginton plans to step down next month, will move into private practice in St. Louis

By The Madison County Record | Nov 24, 2015

U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton has announced that he will resign effective Dec. 11.

His press release issued today boasted of his accomplishments but neglected to mention the most sensational convictions he obtained.

Wigginton didn’t remind taxpayers that he sent former Madison County treasurer Fred Bathon to prison for rigging bids at auctions of delinquent taxes.

Nor did he remind taxpayers that he sent former St. Clair County judge Michael Cook to prison for possessing heroin and using it while possessing firearms.

Wigginton chose not to seek restitution from Bathon for the millions of dollars that his corrupt auctions steered to favored tax buyers.

Three tax buyers pleaded guilty, but Wigginton did not seek restitution from them.

He did not charge other tax buyers who apparently received the same preference.

Last December, Wigginton obtained a court order reducing Bathon’s sentence from 30 months to 15 months.

District Judge David Herndon’s order resulted in Bathon’s release from prison in June.

Had a judge approved the guilty plea that Wigginton and Cook negotiated, Cook would already have been released from prison.

As it is, Cook will remain in custody until Feb. 20, 2016. He was recently transferred from federal prison in Pensacola, Fla. to a residential re-entry management program in St. Louis.

In the course of their negotiations, Wigginton and Cook agreed on an 18 month prison term, but Senior U.S. District Judge Joe McDade of Peoria found the sentence too lenient.

McDade, who took the case after Southern District judges recused themselves, said Cook harmed public faith in the judiciary.

Wigginton’s investigation of Cook also caught his heroin supplier, Sean McGilvery, who pleaded guilty of distribution.

The investigation also caught county probation officer James Fogarty, who pleaded guilty of supplying cocaine to the late judge Joe Christ.

Christ died of cocaine intoxication in 2013, at Cook’s hunting lodge in Pike County.

Fogarty successfully pleaded that he didn’t provide the cocaine that killed Christ.

When Wigginton cut Bathon’s sentence in half, he also cut in half the sentences of McGilvery and Fogarty.

Wigginton’s motions for sentence reductions and the orders granting the motions remain under seal.

He apparently relied on a rule allowing sentence reductions for prisoners who provide information that leads to further indictments.

He has not indicted anyone in connection with either case, and has not explained how Bathon, McGilvery and Fogarty earned the breaks he gave them.

Wigginton’s announcement stated that he would work for the Armstrong Teasdale firm in St. Louis.

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