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Former southwestern Illinois judge pleads guilty to federal heroin, gun charges

A former southwestern Illinois judge at the center of a courthouse drug scandal that included another judge's cocaine death has pleaded guilty to federal heroin and gun charges.

Forty-three-year-old Michael Cook entered the pleas Friday in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis to charges that led to his May resignation from his St. Clair County Circuit Court judgeship.

His legal troubles surfaced after Joe Christ (krihst) died of a cocaine overdose in March while with Cook at a hunting cabin. Christ was a former St. Clair County prosecutor and newly sworn-in judge.

Cook has not been charged in Christ's death.

U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade is allowing Cook to remain free on bond. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 17.

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