by Ray Downs
The judge who went to party with a bunch of heroin at his parent's cabin and then saw his buddy judge die from an overdose is facing 18 months in prison. The guy who sold him the heroin was sentenced to 10 years on Thursday.
Former St. Clair County judge Michael Cook ("former" because of the heroin) is charged with a misdemeanor for possessing heroin and a felony for possessing heroin along with firearms - and he really liked firearms. For those charges, the feds investigating the case have recommended the ex-judge spend about a year and a half behind bars.
Sean D. McGilvery, the heroin dealer and longtime friend of Cook who sold the judge goods on an "almost daily basis" was convicted of conspiracy to distribute 1.01 kilograms of heroin. Any amount over one kilo carries a federal mandatory minimum of 10 years. If McGilvery had a few grams less, he could have received a five-year sentence.
"That's the difference in weight of about two nickels," says U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.
Selling drugs is a bigger crime than buying drugs in the eyes of the U.S. legal system and federal prosecutors said there was no reason to give Cook a longer than normal sentence. However, the disparity of these two sentences has raised the eyebrows of at least one other judge, who says that because Cook was a jurist who presided over drug cases - probably while on drugs given his admittedly very intense addiction - and allegedly gave shorter sentences to clients in exchange for drugs, he should get a tougher sentence.
"The potential impact of his conduct, in how it may have affected trials he presided over and sentences he imposed while addicted to illegal substances, are immeasurable yet cannot be ignored," says U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade, according to the Madison St. Clair Record.
McDade says that in addition to being higher than a 1960's rock star while presiding over drug cases, other reasons to depart from a normal sentence include "disruption of government functions" and giving reason for the public to lose confidence in the judicial system.
Of course, the public may have already lost whatever confidence they had in the judicial system once Cook was discovered to have rocked a "Bad Is My Middle Name" t-shirt, but that's another matter.
Cook's sentencing is scheduled for February 26.
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