Judge Officially Off The Bench In Belleville

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Judge Michael Cook

BELLEVILLE, IL (KTVI)– A local judge facing federal drug and gun charges is now officially off the job.  The Illinois Supreme Court accepted Judge Michael Cook’s resignation from the Circuit Court in St. Clair County Thursday.  Cook had served on the bench since 2007, initially as an associate judge.  He was elected to a six year term as circuit judge in 2010.

Cook is currently in a drug rehabilitation program ordered by the court as a contingency for his release from jail.  Cook was present in his family’s hunting lodge in Pike County, Illinois, in March when his colleague, former prosecutor and newly appointed judge Joe Christ died of cocaine intoxication.  Authorities found drug paraphernalia and cocaine under Christ’s body.

Christ’s death prompted an extensive federal and state investigation into drug use in the Metro East.  The U.S. Attorney and the St. Clair County State’s Attorney are both involved in the investigation.  U. S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton promised a wide open effort to track down anyone associated with heroin and cocaine sales in the area.

Cook’s trial is expected to begin July 30 in the federal court in East St. Louis.

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