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Judge Michael Cook probed by Feds

10:08 PM, May 23, 2013   |    comments
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By Talia Kaplan

ST. CLAIR COUNTY (KSDK) - A St. Clair County judge is in custody and under investigation.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Cook has been banned from hearing hundreds of cases. The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration are both involved in this case.

No one is confirming much right now but we do know federal agencies, with the help of Illinois State Police and the DEA raided a home on 38th Street in Belleville Wednesday night.

Court documents say they also searched Cook, his home in Belleville, and his hunting cabin in Pleasant Hill, Ill. This is the same hunting cabin where Circuit Judge Joe Christ died in March.

"The deceased came back with cocaine levels in his blood and the cause of death preliminarily is a cocaine toxicity," says Pike County, Illinois Sheriff Paul Petty.

On March 10th, Sheriff Petty says Cook found his 49 year old friend Judge Christ dead at his rural cabin.

There was an investigation into his death and the sheriff says it took the past two months to find out the cause and manner of the judge's death.

Sheriff Petty explains yes, Cook was there, he made the call to 911, but he was not responsible for Christ's death.

"When you respond to a residence that has two sitting judges and one deceased, it's not something you respond to every day," says Sheriff Petty.

On Thursday, Chief Circuit Judge John Baricevic reassigned all Cook's cases. He says Cook's office has been secured, but the FBI did not search it just yet.

"My first concern is with the integrity of the system. Citizens have a right to expect the judicial system operates with integrity so my first concern is with the citizens and members of this community. But we will have to wait until the investigation is complete to know what we are facing and we are cooperating with the US attorney's office in that investigation," said Baricevic.

At this pint one will confirm why Cook is the target of a federal investigation. U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton is not commenting yet.

Associated Press

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