ST. LOUIS — — A southwestern Illinois man admitted in federal court Thursday his role in a heroin-trafficking ring that prosecutors say involved supplying the drug almost daily to a sitting judge who resigned after being accused of heroin possession.
During a hearing in which Sean McGilvery pleaded guilty to felony heroin conspiracy and possession charges, prosecutors offered the most extensive account yet of former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook's alleged drug use, saying he was one of McGilvery's regular customers.
Cook, the central figure in a St. Clair County courthouse scandal that includes the March cocaine-overdose death of a prosecutor-turned-judge, was arrested in May after authorities allege he was found outside of McGilvery's home with heroin.
Federal prosecutors later charged Cook with possessing heroin and having a gun while illegally using controlled substances, and Cook stepped down from the bench. He has pleaded not guilty, undergone drug rehab in Minnesota and awaits a scheduled December trial.
In court Thursday, prosecutors said Cook "on an almost daily basis" got heroin from 34-year-old McGilvery, who obtained the drug through a co-defendant who bought it in Chicago.
Tom Keefe III, one of Cook's attorneys, declined to comment Thursday about the U.S. government's claims that his client routinely obtained heroin from McGilvery.
Authorities have said Cook was with former longtime St. Clair County prosecutor and newly sworn-in associate judge Joe Christ in March when Christ died of a cocaine overdose at the Cook family's western Illinois hunting cabin. Cook has not been charged in the death of Christ, a 49-year-old father of six.
As part of the investigation, federal authorities also snared a St. Clair County probation officer who an FBI agent said admitted to providing cocaine to Cook and Christ on several occasions, including on the eve of the judges' hunting trip. James Fogarty has pleaded not guilty to drug and weapons charges and is scheduled for trial next month.
Cook became an associate circuit judge in 2007 and was appointed a circuit judge in 2010, then won a six-year term later that year. After his resignation, all of his pending cases were reassigned.
At his sentencing Jan. 23, McGilvery faces up to a decade in prison as part of a deal with prosecutors.