ST. CLAIR COUNTY, Ill. – A judge has rejected the plea deal agreed to by a former judge at the center of a drug scandal.
Michael Cook was expected to be sentenced Wednesday after pleading guilty last year to federal heroin and weapons possession counts.
On Wednesday, Judge Joe Billy McDade rejected the deal struck with prosecutors, which called for Cook to spend 18 months in prison instead of going to trial.
"The court believes the facts set forth in this report support the higher sentence. One, that in the court's judgment, would be fair to Mr. Cook and fair to the public in terms of reassuring them that the judiciary is in fine shape and the judiciary is in good hands and one that continues to warrant their respect," said Judge McDade. "I do my best to impose a sentence that is fair. Just because he was a judge doesn't mean that the court would throw the book at him. Justice would be to impose the sentence that serves justice and promotes respect for the law."
The court clerk says three cases Cook presided over have been granted a second look. Two of them are murders and the other a robbery. The two murder cases will be re-tried. According to the clerk, the robbery suspected has already pleaded.
Cook was investigated last year after his friend, Judge Joe Christ, died of a cocaine overdose. He resigned in May 2013.