- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (AP) - Attorneys for a former southwestern Illinois judge accused of federal drug and heroin counts met a deadline for filing a response to a judge’s scrapping of an earlier plea deal.

It’s unclear whether Wednesday’s filing on Michael Cook’s behalf was an alternative to the plea agreement U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade refused to accept last month. That’s because the latest filing is sealed, and attorneys for Cook and the U.S. government refused to publicly discuss the matter.

In pleading guilty in November, Cook agreed to serve 18 months in prison. But McDade scuttled that, believing such a sentence for the former St. Clair County judge was too lenient.

Cook still has the option of withdrawing his guilty plea and requesting a trial.

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