Ex-judge to plead guilty to heroin, gun charges

An attorney for a former southwestern Illinois judge at the center of a courthouse drug scandal says his client plans to plead guilty next week to federal heroin and drug charges.

Former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook is charged with heroin possession and having a gun while illegally using controlled substances.

A change-of-plea hearing is scheduled Nov. 8 in federal court in East St. Louis and Cook attorney J. William Lucco told The Associated Press that Cook intends to plead guilty.

Cook has resigned his judgeship.

Cook's legal troubles intensified earlier this year when he was present at his family's hunting cabin just outside Pleasant Hill, Ill. on March 10 and found his friend and and fellow judge, Joe Christ, unconscious on the bathroom floor. Christ was pronounced dead at the scene. The Pike County Sheriff's Office later released excerpts from the 911 call.

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An autopsy indicated Christ's cause of death was cocaine intoxication. Toxicology reports show Christ had both alcohol and cocaine in his system. Police said cocaine and drug paraphernalia were confiscated at the scene.

KHQA contributed to this Associated Press story.