A former St. Clair County judge will spend two years in federal prison for federal drug and weapons charges.
"When judges fall from grace, we expect them to land a little bit harder than the rest of us," said Judge Joe Billy McDade when he handed out the sentence to Michael Cook this afternoon. Cook pleaded guilty in November to heroin possession, and to being a drug user in possession of a firearm.
A federal court in Illinois has rejected a plea agreement that would have sent former St. Clair County judge Michael Cook to prison for 18 months on drug and weapons charges.
Judge Joe McDade, who normally presides over federal cases in Peoria, Ill., told attorneys for both sides today that he did not believe the proposed sentence was long enough to assure St. Clair County residents that their judiciary was in good hands. McDade was assigned to the case after two judges from the Southern District recused themselves.
A group of citizens fed up with what they call a lack of transparency and responsiveness in St. Clair County government aired a wide variety of concerns today outside the county's headquarters in Belleville.
Michael N. Cook is sworn in as a St. Clair County Circuit Judge on Oct. 1, 2010, at the county building in Belleville, Ill. He resigned from the bench on Wednesday (May 29, 2013). Cook was charged May 23 by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois with possessing weapons while under the influence of heroin, a felony, and misdemeanor heroin possession.