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St. Clair County implodes

Thursday, Jun 27, 2013

* This is just the latest twist in what has been a totally bizarre month in St. Clair County

A former state lawmaker who’s the new clerk of southwestern Illinois’ St. Clair County says his new job will pay about $20,000 less than what he is making, but he’s fine with that.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports Tom Holbrook will make $100,800 as St. Clair County clerk. He’s now making $120,000 a year as chairman of the Illinois Pollution Control Board.

The county’s board on Monday night unanimously appointed Holbrook as the replacement of Bob Delaney, who resigned last week after an employee accused him of discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Delaney denied any wrongdoing.

* The Delaney incident was really awful

Employees of St. Clair County Clerk Bob Delaney, who resigned abruptly this week, complained that their boss grabbed their breasts and buttocks, kissed them and made inappropriate comments at work, according a copy of an investigative report released Thursday.

The report, by county Equal Employment Opportunity Officer Laura Beasley, also said workers accused Delaney of drinking on the job, using racial slurs and cultivating a climate of fear and racial discrimination.

Beasley determined that the complaint was “overwhelmingly founded.”

The investigation was prompted by a May 16 complaint from Laura Romero, a 25-year-old employee who had been fired. The report was released Wednesday by Romero’s lawyer, Thomas Kennedy III, but parts were missing due to a faxing error.

The complete report says that four other employees were mulling complaints against Delaney. It says seven employees told Beasley that Delaney had grabbed the buttocks of workers, two employees said he grabbed their breasts and 13 said they had been kissed by Delaney “on the face, cheeks, and lips.”

* But that was nothing compared to what happened in late May. The judge who presided over the county’s drug court, and whose father is a major trial lawyer and bigtime Democratic campaign contributor, was arrested. From May 24th

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook is the target of a federal investigation. […]

The investigation has raised new questions about the death of Circuit Judge Joe Christ, who died in March while at a hunting cabin in Pike County, Ill., owned by Cook’s family. The Pike County coroner, Paul Petty, confirmed Friday that Christ died of cocaine intoxication, and that traces of cocaine and drug paraphernalia were found near his body.

Christ, 49, a longtime St. Clair County prosecutor, had only been on the bench about a week before his death.

* Later in the day

A southwestern Illinois judge already under scrutiny after a colleague died of a cocaine overdose at his family’s hunting lodge was charged Friday with possession of heroin and guns.

Wearing cutoff shorts and a T-shirt with the slogan “Bad is my middle name,” St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook pleaded not guilty to federal counts of possessing heroin and having a firearm while being an illegal user of controlled substances. The criminal complaint alleges those offenses took place Thursday, and that Cook is an addict.

Earlier Friday, the county coroner said toxicology tests showed that Cook’s colleague, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Joe Christ, overdosed on cocaine while staying with Cook at the Cook family’s 2,500-square-foot cabin near the Mississippi River in western Illin

* Apparently, the two went easy on an alleged heroin dealer who sold them drugs

First Assistant U.S. Attorney James Porter blames St. Clair County justice for the absence of criminal convictions against alleged heroin dealer and addict Sean McGilvery of Belleville. […]

Porter said he was aware that a report from probation officers listed no convictions.

“We are also aware that the reason is because of the people he dealt with in the courthouse,” Porter said.

“He simply hasn’t been made to pay for any of the things he has done in the past.”

McGilvery allegedly supplied heroin that addicted former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook.

* Christ dismissed tickets

In his final days as a St. Clair County prosecutor, Joe Christ recommended that traffic tickets be dismissed for two men accused in federal court documents of selling cocaine and heroin to Christ and his friend, Circuit Judge Michael Cook, and then Cook obliged.

* The scale is just mind-boggling

Suspended Circuit Court Judge Michael Cook’s long-time friend, Sean McGilvery, has been named a co-defendant in a high-volume heroin distribution case allegedly run by a mother and son team from Fairview Heights previously charged with concealing the drug overdose death of a 30-year-old woman.

McGilvery, 34, of Belleville, was charged in federal court with conspiracy to distribute more than two pounds of heroin. McGilvery, who pleaded not guilty, resided at 309 N. 38th St. in Belleville, the same address where the home’s owner, McGilvery’s mother Linda Gibson, said Cook was arrested Wednesday evening by federal agents.

On Friday, Cook was charged with possessing heroin and a felony weapons charge. He pleaded not guilty.

Also charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin are Deborah A. Perkins, 64, and her 46-year-old son, Douglas W. Oliver. They were charged Sept. 5 with moving the body of Jessica Williams from their Fairview Heights home and dumping it in Washington Park. An autopsy showed Williams died from a heroin overdose. […]

In addition to being friends for years, McGilvery is also linked to Cook through a 1999 injury liability case where Cook was his lawyer, and in a 2011 drug possession case where Cook was the judge. Cook dismissed the felony drug possession charge in May 2012 after McGilvery completed a drug treatment program.

* And the irony is too thick to be imagined

The St. Clair County Circuit judge at the center of a drug scandal and charged with heroin possession, handled 90 percent of the circuit’s drug court cases. Judge Michael Cook decided if felons were complying with their rehabilitation efforts. Ironically, it is the judge who is in rehab right now.

* A probation officer was also involved

On Tuesday, St. Clair County Probation Officer James K. Fogarty, 45, of Belleville, appeared in federal court to answer to charges of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. He pleaded not guilty and waived his preliminary hearing. He remains in federal custody until a bond hearing set for next week.

During an interview with FBI agent Joe Murphy at Fogarty’s home, Fogarty said he used cocaine with Cook and newly elected Associate Circuit Judge Joe Christ, who was a longtime St. Clair County prosecutor.

Fogarty told Murphy that he sold an “eight ball of cocaine,” or about an eighth of an ounce, to the judges with each paying about $140 apiece. The cocaine was purchased by the judges the day before Christ was found dead at Cook’s family’s hunting cabin in Pike County, Ill. The Pike County sheriff has said that Christ died of cocaine toxicity.

* And that probation officer reportedly squealed

In asking a judge not to release a former St. Clair County probation officer on bond, a federal prosecutor said the defendant “implicated a number of prominent people up in Belleville and the area around.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Porter said the government was concerned that these people might encourage James K. Fogarty, of Belleville, to flee so that he could not further implicate them. He said Fogarty, in his job as a probation officer, committed “a jaw-dropping and extraordinary breach of trust,” and is a flight risk.

* The rot appears to be quite widespread

The daughter of a former St. Clair County judge was a co-defendant in a drug case against a man who federal prosecutors say provided heroin to another county judge, Michael Cook.

Katherine C. O’Malley, 33, of Belleville, the daughter of retired Circuit Judge Michael O’Malley, is listed as a co-defendant in the 2011 case of Sean McGilvery of Belleville, who was charged with possessing crack cocaine.

Cook, a longtime friend of McGilvery’s, ordered McGilvery to complete a drug treatment class, then dismissed the case.

O’Malley’s case has been expunged and is no longer listed in the circuit clerk’s records, but her attorney, Greg Skinner, said she was ordered to complete drug school, then Circuit Judge John Baricevic dismissed the case on May 23, 2012. It was the same punishment as McGilvery received.

* The US Attorney is expanding the probe

U.S. Attorney Steve Wigginton told reporters the investigation into who else might be involved is “wide open,” and continues within St. Clair County Courthouse and beyond

* Did that federal probe include a local police chief, who killed himself?

No one has implicated the late Caseyville police chief J.D. Roth as a suspect in a federal investigation, except Roth himself.

After his June 13 suicide, those close to him told Fairview Heights police that he had been depressed for months about an investigation.

Public records show Roth was arrested on May 8, when state police picked him up on two charges of official misconduct.

Roth shot himself in his back yard, at 9704 Avalon in Fairview Heights..

Ugh.

* Related…

* Departing clerk Delaney faces action over bad debt

* Bound in handcuffs, Belleville woman is interrogated by FBI about Judge Michael Cook

* Judge grants Cook’s motion to continue trial on drug charge; Grand jury returns indictments of McGilvery, Fogarty

* Mothers of women who died from heroin blame Cook: ‘If (he’d) been doing his job …’

* ‘What’s the difference between him and me — the black robe?’: Former addict resents being sent to prison by Cook

* Fallout from Cook case: St. Clair County may expand drug testing

* Accused drug dealer at heart of courthouse scandal won’t go to rehab

* Steven McGlynn named to St. Clair County bench

- Posted by Rich Miller        

33 Comments
  1. - Palos Park Bob - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:23 pm:

    Gosh, what a corrupt and disgusting judicial bureaucracy we have in Illinois.

    And to think that if the guy didn’t OD he could’ve stayed on the bench fixing drug cases for decades.

    What has to happen for this state to clean out the cesspool it’s become?

    I certainly don’t see any White Knights on the horizon to save us…


  2. - Rufus - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:24 pm:

    Kind of reminds me of our state legistrators, except they are selling influence instead of drugs… And are they addicted to it.


  3. - b - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:29 pm:

    Good call, Rufus. The system is broken that’s for sure.

    American Gangster was on BET last night. Fitting given this story here. The drug war is an unwinnable, pointless exercise where the corruption that stems from it is part of the reason this country is rotting on the vine. Sigh.


  4. - siriusly - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:31 pm:

    Yup, only Chicago is corrupt. The state sure would be better off without Chicago.


  5. - Keyrock - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:35 pm:

    If only Cook County Circuit Court had a Brockton Lockwood to send downstate.


  6. - Judge Cooked - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:40 pm:

    – I certainly don’t see any White Knights on the horizon to save us… –

    Look to the prosecutors, Wiggington and Kelly, and you’ll find your Knights. Not as dreary as it appears.


  7. - Judge Cooked - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:42 pm:

    Wiggington may already have a record of putting more politicians under indictment than Fitz, but no one is paying attention because it’s downstate Illinois. People are finally starting to notice.


  8. - Judgment Day - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:43 pm:

    If you’ve ever worked down in Belleville in St. Clair County, why would you be surprised. It’s a really split County, with the major population centers on the West being heavily Democratic, and as a result, they control the County.

    The County is a primarily one-party operation, and the good people come and go, but the deadweight sticks around. The County has always been patronage heaven, but mostly it’s ‘quantity of quality’ situation in terms of employees.

    The Circuit Clerk’s office (some years ago) just used to be absolutely wild. I can remember the IT folks working to put up this enormously sophisticated and extremely expensive Traffic/Ticketing System for the entire judicial area, including LE and administrative, and how the entire computer system was almost spontaneously rejected by all the users - and it wasn’t a bad software system.

    It was what they spec’d out, but it wasn’t ‘adjustable’ enough. And that was before the Circuit Clerk’s office ever saw it, with the office staff being 2 guys in their 70’s (The Circuit Clerk and his first deputy), and about 80+ women. No kidding.

    Bunch of DP folks left over that one.

    There were (and are) good offices, but St. Clair County has real issues.


  9. - Boat Captain - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:44 pm:

    For decades the counties of St Clair and Madison have been known to be corrupt. It has been no secret in southern IL but most of the headlines are from Chicago. Just as bad or worse in the south. Just never talked about or investigated by the right people, ie-someone that was not politically connected or could not be influenced by money or power.


  10. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:45 pm:

    How does a regular person get a fair shake there?

    Sad.

    Can I guess the state of the economy there?


  11. - Judge Cooked - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:51 pm:

    And the fact that the old guard in St. Clair could inspire no better than Holbrook as a quick replacement to Delaney shows, first, how fractured the party is between ESL, old Belleville, and the Collinsville crowd moved south, and, second, the bench of young “insiders” is completely swallowed up in scandal, and, third, the Old Guard won’t relinquish the “outsiders” (read: prosecutors) until many more are tied up into this scandal. It’s the same dynamic that produced Harriman for Congress before the very real chance of losing a solid seat.


  12. - Skirmisher - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:52 pm:

    Corruption is a way of life a among St. Clair politicos. I once had a long-time state senator down there take me on a tour of his property, where he proudly pointed out many improvements made by IDOT and associated contractors for various projects he had brought to his district. He was proud of his private collection of improvements and was proud to boast about it. There is simply an assumption down there that those in office deserve to personally gain from their power.


  13. - Downstater - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:52 pm:

    You forgot to mention the former Madison County treasurer, Fred Bathon, pleading guilty to federal charges related to his office and, now, current Madison County Sheriff, Bob Hertz, having sexual harassment charges filed against him. By the way, the lady filing the sexual harassment charge has been transferred to the Madison County State’s Attorney office. Look out Chicago, Madison and St. Clair county are catching up with you.


  14. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:55 pm:

    ===You forgot to mention the former Madison County===

    Um, this post is about St. Clair County.


  15. - Judge Cooked - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 1:57 pm:

    This system just needed one honest person to purge itself of the old ways. It got two: US Attorney Steve Wiggington and State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly.

    Look for one of them to be the 2016 Congressional candidate in the 12th against Bost.


  16. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 2:00 pm:

    St. Louis and the Metro East have always been pretty wild, but this stuff is over the top.

    They don’t take a backseat to Chicago when it comes to corruption. I don’t recall during Greylord that any of the judges were not only in business with drug dealers, but users themselves.

    Perhaps some Downstate legislators would like to propose urine testing before judges can assume the bench.

    Maybe for sheriff’s personnel, too. Old Gallatin County Sheriff Ray Martin had himself quite a side-business down there. He was later found to have Oxy and cocaine in his Williamson County jail cell while he was awaiting re-sentencing.

    Sigh. This Downstate corruption is really holding Cook County down.


  17. - Loop Lady - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 2:07 pm:

    The socio-economics of this county weren’t great prior to the 2008 recession…unfortunately this news is regrettable, but not surprising…


  18. - Judge Cooked - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 2:11 pm:

    – There is simply an assumption down there that those in office deserve to personally gain from their power. –

    I think that attitude prevailed for a long time, but recent suburbanization of areas like Shiloh, Swansea and rural Caseyville have created another, more moderate, Dem faction that is sick of that environment. Add that to the moderate GOP base around O’Fallon, which has shown an ability to work with that faction, plus leverage the ESL Dem constituency against the Old Guard in Belleville, and I think we’re seeing a purge of things that used to get swept under the rug. This is truly a new generation battling it out with the second generation of Old Guard kids. Just watch the familiarity of the last names of the defense attorneys. The young prosecutors are far superior to the kids of the Assumption Old Guard. I’m sure they had hoped this wouldn’t fall apart until Jerry Jr was more established.


  19. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 2:31 pm:

    ==Um, this post is about St. Clair County.==

    Maybe you should do a 102 counties in 102 days corruption special.


  20. - ExPress - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 2:39 pm:

    Great job, Rich, of assembling information from various sources to tell a complete story. Reminds me of talented editors from the past who would combine three or four wire service stories into one complete piece. Of course now, hardly anybody subscribes to three or four wire services.


  21. - Just a Citizen - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 2:41 pm:

    All the cases decided by these 2 judges should be reviewed.


  22. - reformer - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 2:43 pm:

    Are these St. Clair County corrupt pols all Democrats?


  23. - LincolnLounger - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 2:43 pm:

    I can’t move past the judge going to court in a t-shirt that read “Bad is my middle name”.

    Perhaps that’s what they should put on the traffic signs as one enters St. Clair County.


  24. - BDuty6 - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 3:34 pm:

    @Reformer
    Yes, every one of the corrupt politicos and judges are Democrats.


  25. - Jim - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 3:42 pm:

    Hey, this is how they do things in St. Clair/Madison counties. It’s a corrupt sewer and it will continue to be a corrupt sewer. Some find it lamentable, but the pols who run those counties like it just fine.


  26. - reformer - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 4:18 pm:

    BDuty6

    Thanks for the response. At least they aren’t Cook County Democrats.


  27. - Downstate Illinois - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 4:56 pm:

    I’m just waiting to the general election for Congress before Judge Ann Callis is asked about what she knew and when. Likewise with the current Congressman’s wife who occupied the bench in that county for many years.


  28. - Keyrock - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 5:17 pm:

    The elected judiciary isn’t just a problem in Cook County.


  29. - Two term Village President - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 5:40 pm:

    Democrats ;)


  30. - Cuban Pilot - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 6:47 pm:

    In full disclosure, I love Steve McGlynn. He is a good, honorable man. With that said…… Out of the ashes of this stupidity, Steve has a realistic chance to be a Supreme. God speed.


  31. - FormerParatrooper - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 6:51 pm:

    If someone wrote a book with all this it would be passed off as fiction. Power corrupts, especially when those in power hold themselves above the laws they are supposed to enforce.


  32. - Leave a Light on George - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 7:15 pm:

    Current State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly is cleaning up messes that Bob Haida the former SA left behind on his way to becoming a judge.


  33. - Generation X - Thursday, Jun 27, 13 @ 8:24 pm:

    absolute power corrupts absolutely


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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