A former metro-east judge facing federal heroine and weapons charges is set to go to trial by the end of this year, but that could change.
A December 9 trial date was set for former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook at a pretrial hearing Monday. Cook has pleaded not guilty, but at the hearing, his attorney said he may change his plea.
Since being charged in May, Cook resigned his judgeship and was released on bond to attend drug rehab in Minnesota.
St. Clair County Judge Joe Christ died of a cocaine overdose in March at Cook's hunting cabin, though Cook is not charged in Christ's death.
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A metro-east judge's docket of hundreds of cases has been reassigned after the county's top prosecutor revealed that the judge is under federal investigation.
St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelley didn't detail the reason for the investigation. But he said he filed a complaint Thursday against Circuit Judge Michael Cook with state judicial discipline regulators.
Kelly and the county's chief judge, John Baricevic, says they've been cooperating with federal authorities.
Kelly says he has "actively assisted in and advanced a federal investigation" of the judge. He says that aid resulted in law-enforcement searches of Cook's Belleville home and his hunting cabin in western Illinois' Pike County.
The investigation has raised new questions about the death of 49 year old Circuit Judge Joe Christ, who died in March while at Cook's Pike County hunting cabin.