MADISON, WIS. – Timothy M. O’Shea, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Eric G. Cooke, 51, Ladysmith, Wisconsin was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson to 9 years in federal prison for possessing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. This prison term will be followed by 4 years of supervised release. Cooke pleaded guilty to this charge on April 28, 2021.
On July 2, 2020, an investigator with the Rusk County Sheriff’s Department conducted a traffic stop for speeding on a vehicle being driven by Cooke. During the traffic stop, the female passenger told the officer that Cooke forced her to conceal a baggie containing of small amount of methamphetamine to avoid arrest. She turned over the baggie of methamphetamine to the officer, and when officers searched the vehicle, they found a bag containing approximately 118 grams of methamphetamine. Officers also found over $10,000 in cash on Cooke. In addition, the female passenger directed officers to a location off a roadway in Chippewa County where Cooke stashed a cooler containing over three and a half pounds of marijuana.
Cooke was interviewed and admitted to selling methamphetamine off and on for approximately 25 years. He also admitted to selling methamphetamine in increasingly large quantities in 2020 following his release from a yearlong county jail sentence.
In imposing the sentence, Judge Peterson noted the fairly substantial quantity of methamphetamine involved and that Cooke was able to generate enough money selling drugs to purchase a car and have $10,000 in cash on him. Judge Peterson balanced those factors along with Cooke’s lengthy prior criminal record, against his struggle with addiction and his acceptance of responsibility for his actions.
At the time of this incident, Cooke was on state supervision for a prior conviction involving methamphetamine trafficking. His supervision in that case was revoked and he is currently serving a state prison sentence with an expected release date of July 3, 2025. Judge Peterson ordered this federal sentence to run concurrently with the state prison sentence.
The charge against Cooke was the result of an investigation conducted by the West Central Drug Task Force, Chippewa, Clark, Eau Claire, and Rusk County Sheriff’s Offices, Eau Claire and Ladysmith Police Departments, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven P. Anderson.