BELLEVILLE, IL (KTVI)-- A suspected drug dealer arrested in the ongoing federal drug probe in St. Clair County had appeared before two St. Clair County judges caught up in the case. Sean McGilvery, 34, of Belleville was arrested in May with one kilogram of heroin in his possession.
Authorities nabbed Circuit Judge Michael Cook with heroin in his possession outside McGilvery's home. Cook now faces federal drug and weapons charges.
The drug overdose death of the second judge, Joe Christ prompted the federal investigation into the St. Clair County drug scene. Christ had been a long time assistant state's attorney and had served as a judge only ten days before he died while on a hunting trip with Judge Cook.
Sean McGilvery's first brush with the law over drugs came in December of 2011 when he was charged with a Class 4 Felony for unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Even though he admitted he was a heroin addict and had been selling drugs he qualified for a drug diversion program called "drug school."
"It's a fairly intensive process and our success rate has been fairly good; over 93 percent of people who went through drug school have not reoffended," said St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly Thursday. In several years 155 suspects have completed the program.
Kelly described it as an effort to get to the root of the problem and help dry up customers of drug dealers.
Drug counselors with TASK run the program which is paid for by suspects assigned to it. Once the counselors say a suspect has successfully completed the treatment program, prosecutors ask that criminal charges against the suspect be dropped.
"The professionals that run the program are very familiar with drug and alcohol issues," said Kelly adding they can tell us if the suspect is dealing with their addiction effectively most of the time.
A review of cases handled by former Circuit Judge Michael Cook and prosecutor Joe Christ who later became a judge shows both men were involved in paper work to cancel the felony charges against McGilvery.
An investigation of past cases by Judge Baricevic turned up the connection between McGilvery, Cook and Christ. The two also handled a traffic case for McGilvery in which the charges were dropped.
"Joe Christ hand delivered the letter to Judge Cook...neither handled the case, but the dismissal was recommended by another prosecutor so there certainly are implications and if McGilvery was not indicted we might want to be looking at that case from a different light," said Baricevic in a recent interview.
A probation officer from the St. Clair County office also stands arrested on drug charges. James Fogarty appeared before Judge Cook at times. Judge Baricevic says his work is being analyzed as well.
The U.S. Attorney's office for Southern Illinois is leading the ongoing investigation with help from the FBI, the DEA, the Illinois State Police, the St. Clair County State's Attorney and a metropolitan drug enforcement team.
Ill. Judge Dies of Drug Overdose, Another Charged With Drug Possession
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