The former metro-east judge at the center of a courthouse drug scandal could learn his punishment today on federal gun and heroin charges.
Last month U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade rejected a plea deal with former St. Clair County judge Michael Cook. McDade had called the proposed 18 month prison term too lenient. The judge delayed proceedings until today to give both sides time to negotiate a stiffer prison sentence for him to consider.
At a 10:30 a.m. hearing, McDade could hand down that sentence -- if the two sides came to terms and if McDade finds the sentence stiff enough.
Cook still has the right to withdraw his November guilty plea and request a trial.
Sentencing for Cornell McKay will go on as scheduled, despite his attorney's pleas for a review of the jury's verdict against him. McKay will be sentenced March 20th for armed robbery.
His attorneys had asked St. Louis Circuit Judge Robin Vannoy to give them 60 days to investigate whether evidence that suggests Megan Boken's killer may have committed the crime was improperly kept out of McKay’s trial. Boken was killed by Keith Esters during a similar robbery a few days later in the same neighborhood.
The judge declined the request.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Vannoy also declined a prosecution request to bar McKay's often vocal supporters from the courtroom during sentencing.
McKay's attorneys say they plan to take the case to the state appellate court.
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A traveling medical technician who infected dozens of patients in multiple states with hepatitis C through tainted syringes was due to find out Monday how many decades he'll spend in a New Hampshire prison.
David Kwiatkowski, 34, worked as a cardiac technologist in 18 hospitals in seven states before being hired at New Hampshire's Exeter Hospital in 2011, moving from job to job despite being fired at least four times over allegations of drug use and theft. Since his arrest last year, 46 people in four states have been diagnosed with the same strain of hepatitis C he carries.
Kwiatkowski, who has admitted stealing painkillers and replacing them with saline-filled syringes tainted with his blood, pleaded guilty in August to 16 federal drug charges.
In court documents filed last week, prosecutors said Kwiatkowski should spend 40 years in prison because he created a "national public health crisis," put a significant number of people at risk and caused substantial physical and emotional harm to a large number of victims. Defense lawyers argued that a 30-year sentence would better balance the seriousness of the crimes against Kwiatkowski's mental and emotional problems and his addiction to drugs and alcohol, which they said clouded his judgment.
In all, 32 patients were infected in New Hampshire, seven in Maryland, six in Kansas and one in Pennsylvania. Kwiatkowski, 34, also worked in Michigan, New York, Arizona and Georgia.
Two of the 16 charges stem from the case of a Kansas patient who has since died. Authorities say hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus that can cause liver disease and chronic health problems, played a contributing role.
There's more fallout from the St. Clair County Courts scandal.
A metro-east man who was supposed to be sentenced on a murder conviction yesterday is instead getting a new trial.
Twenty-nine-year-old William Cosby had been convicted in April of shooting a man to death outside an East St. Louis nightclub.
Yesterday, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert Haida ordered a new trial. The problem? Cosby's trial judge had been Michael Cook, who is now facing drug and weapons charges.
Cosby's attorneys argued that it had been unfair that prosecutors had known Cook was being investigated and the defense had not. Judge Haida agreed.
Cosby remains in the St. Clair County Jail on a million dollar bond while he awaits that new trial.
A man called Outlaw is headed to prison for his role in two violent crimes.
Stanley "Outlaw" Carter was sentenced in federal court to 20 years behind bars. In 2008 Carter was first involved in an armed home invasion and stole a large amount of marijuana. Later in the year he was involved in a shooting that left two men dead.
A judge said both of the crimes were related to a drug trafficking operation and the fruits of a federal investigation.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The wife of former Illinois congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has been sentenced to one year in prison for filing false joint federal income tax returns that understated the income the couple received.
Sandra Jackson admitted in a guilty plea earlier this year that from mid-2006 through mid-October of last year, she failed to report $600,000 in income that she and her husband earned from 2005 to 2011.
Mrs. Jackson was a Chicago alderman before she resigned during a federal investigation of the couple.
She was sentenced Wednesday along with her husband. Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced to two and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to engaging in a scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder is calling for major changes to the nation's criminal justice system that would scale back the use of harsh prison sentences for certain drug-related crimes, divert people convicted of low-level offenses to drug treatment and community service programs and expand a prison program to allow for release of some elderly, non-violent offenders.
In remarks prepared for delivery Monday to the American Bar Association in San Francisco, Holder said he is mandating a change to Justice Department policy so that low-level, non-violent drug offenders with no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs or cartels won't be charged with offenses that impose mandatory minimum sentences.
Mandatory minimum prison sentences — a product of the government's war on drugs in the 1980s — limit the discretion of judges to impose shorter prison sentences.
Under the altered policy, the attorney general said defendants will instead be charged with offenses for which accompanying sentences "are better suited to their individual conduct, rather than excessive prison terms more appropriate for violent criminals or drug kingpins."
Federal prisons are operating at nearly 40 percent above capacity and hold more than 219,000 inmates — with almost half of them serving time for drug-related crimes and many of them with substance use disorders. In addition, 9 million to 10 million prisoners go through local jails each year. Holder praised state and local law enforcement officials for already instituting some of the types of changes Holder says must be made at the federal level.
Aggressive enforcement of federal criminal laws is necessary, but "we cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer nation," Holder said. "Today, a vicious cycle of poverty, criminality and incarceration traps too many Americans and weakens too many communities. However, many aspects of our criminal justice system may actually exacerbate this problem, rather than alleviate it."
"We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter and rehabilitate — not merely to convict, warehouse and forget," said the attorney general.
Holder said mandatory minimum sentences "breed disrespect for the system. When applied indiscriminately, they do not serve public safety. They have had a disabling effect on communities. And they are ultimately counterproductive."
Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., have introduced legislation aimed at giving federal judges more discretion in applying mandatory minimums to certain drug offenders.
Holder said new approaches — which he is calling the "Smart On Crime" initiative — are the result of a Justice Department review he launched early this year.
The attorney general said some issues are best handled at the state or local level and said he has directed federal prosecutors across the country to develop locally tailored guidelines for determining when federal charges should be filed, and when they should not.
"By targeting the most serious offenses, prosecuting the most dangerous criminals, directing assistance to crime 'hot spots,' and pursuing new ways to promote public safety, deterrence, efficiency and fairness — we can become both smarter and tougher on crime," Holder said.
The attorney general said 17 states have directed money away from prison construction and toward programs and services such as treatment and supervision that are designed to reduce the problem of repeat offenders.
In Kentucky, legislation has reserved prison beds for the most serious offenders and refocused resources on community supervision. The state, Holder said, is projected to reduce its prison population by more than 3,000 over the next 10 years, saving more than $400 million.
He also cited investments in drug treatment in Texas for non-violent offenders and changes to parole policies which he said brought about a reduction in the prison population of more than 5,000 inmates last year. He said similar efforts helped Arkansas reduce its prison population by more than 1,400. He also pointed to Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Hawaii as states that have improved public safety while preserving limited resources.
Holder also said the department is expanding a policy for considering compassionate release for inmates facing extraordinary or compelling circumstances, and who pose no threat to the public. He said the expansion will include elderly inmates who did not commit violent crimes and who have served significant portions of their sentences.
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) — A federal judge has again delayed the sentencing of a former Madison County treasurer to allow him to continue cooperating with a federal corruption investigation.
U.S. District Judge David Herndon on Friday delayed Fred Bathon's sentencing from August 30th until December 6th. Earlier this year the judge delayed Bathon's sentencing from May until August.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports Bathon's attorney filed a motion requesting the delay. Prosecutors didn't object.
Bathon pleaded guilty in February to rigging 2005-2008 tax lien auctions so that his political donors profited from inflated penalties paid by property owners.
Bathon could receive a prison sentence of between 31 and 40 months, though his sentence could be reduced because of his cooperation with investigators.
ST. LOUIS (AP) - An Illinois appeals court has thrown out 31 convictions involving a woman who drunkenly caused a 2009 wreck that killed four people, although the panel let stand a 20-year prison sentence the woman said was excessive.
On Wednesday, the Mount Vernon, Ill.-based 5th District Appellate Court threw out all but one of Melissa Weiser's 32 convictions for felony aggravated driving under the influence, ruling them redundant even though the former East Carondolet woman pleaded guilty to the charges.
The 31-year-old unsuccessfully pressed to have her 20-year prison sentence reduced in connection with the Clinton County wreck that killed her fiance and three occupants of the another vehicle on Memorial Day weekend in 2009.
Weiser admitted she had been drinking and had smoked marijuana before the accident.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - A southwest Missouri man will serve one year and one day in prison with no chance of parole for evading federal reporting rules to conceal a scheme to sell stolen cooking oil.
The U.S. Attorney's office says in a news release Monday that 46-year-old Jesse Arnold of Sarcoxie was sentenced Friday. He also must also forfeit $207,817.
Arnold operated 4 States Grease Company, which collected spent cooking oil for recycling. He admitted last December that he knew he was buying old cooking oil that had been stolen by various drivers from businesses in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.
Prosecutors said Arnold avoided federal reporting requirements by making withdrawals from his business checking count for less than $10,000. Banks must file a currency transaction report for any financial transaction over $10,000.