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Heroin charges force judge to quit

By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com
Heroin charges force judge to quit
A man injects heroin into his arm. (huchifresh on Flickr)

An Illinois judge embroiled in a courthouse drug scandal has resigned from the bench after being charged with possession of heroin and having a gun while in possession of a controlled substance.

Judge Michael Cook, 43, tendered his letter of resignation to St. Clair County Circuit Chief Judge John Baricevic Wednesday, who submitted the resignation to the Illinois Supreme Court for review, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

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Cook, who is on a government-ordered stay at a drug rehab facility, was arrested outside the home of an alleged heroin dealer last week. He has also been accused of purchasing cocaine from a probation officer in part of a drug scandal encompassing at least three members of the court staff.

The probation officer, James Fogarty, 45, was charged last week with distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and told FBI investigators he had repeatedly sold drugs to Cook and another judge, Joseph Christ, who died of a cocaine overdose on March 10.

Cook pleaded not guilty to felony charges of being an unlawful user of controlled substance in possession of a firearm and misdemeanor charges of possession of heroin last Friday.

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The two judges had attended a hunters' banquet the night of March 9 in Pittsfield, Ill., then reportedly returned to Cook's cabin in Pike County. A firefighter who responded to an emergency call said Cook told him he had partied all night with Christ, and found him dead in bed in the morning.

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