Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Southern Illinois judge known for role in '80s FBI bust of Cook County corruption dies at 74
alert top story

Southern Illinois judge known for role in '80s FBI bust of Cook County corruption dies at 74


HERRIN — A longtime Southern Illinois judge best known for his role in the early '80s FBI bust of widespread corruption in Cook County died Monday in Marion. 

Brocton Lockwood, 74, of Herrin died at 11:14 p.m. in Parkway Manor in Marion.

Lockwood grew up on a farm between Carbondale and Murphysboro. After graduating from Carbondale Community High School, he attended Oberlin College and graduated from Vanderbilt School of Law in 1969.

He returned to Southern Illinois as a trial lawyer to practice law.

"I loved it; I always loved it. The drama of the courtroom is addictive. I used to take off work to go watch a good trial. I'd do that now if I could," Lockwood told Andrea Hahn of The Southern Illinoisan in November 2006.

However, Lockwood is not best known for his role as a trial attorney. He was best known for his role as an FBI informant in Operation Greylord.

Lockwood was elected as an associate judge in the First Judicial Circuit in Jackson and Williamson counties in 1978.

In August 1983, Lockwood told Cathy Monroe of The Southern Illinoisan that he was the "mole" in Operation Greylord, a three-year FBI sting that uncovered widespread corruption in the Cook County court system.

At the time, downstate circuit judges were required to spend time serving on the bench in Chicago. Judges from rural areas were considered to be “ignorant hillbillies,” according to Lockwood. He used that image to disguise his role and hid a recorder in his cowboy boots.

Support Local Journalism

Your membership makes our reporting possible.

In December 1983, 92 officials were indicted. Eighty-four of them were convicted, including 15 judges, more than 40 lawyers, more than a dozen law-enforcement officers as well as court officials.

Operation Greylord is not the only notable accomplishment Lockwood had in his career.

He returned to the bench in 2000 in Saline County. In 2004, he started a drug court in Saline County.

Assistant Saline County state’s attorney Jason Olson told The Southern on Wednesday that at the time the drug court started, Saline County and Southern Illinois in general had a huge methamphetamine problem. Every weekend, police officers would arrest half a dozen or more offenders.

“The sentences had no effect as to curbing their use. He started that program mainly out of the frustration he had,” Olson said.

The program consisted of 60 days in jail, treatment for the addiction and a report to the court each week.

Olson said once Lockwood started drug court, he was able to work with local businesses and churches to provide a more structured environment along with treatment. As offenders made progress, he was able to reward to them with gift certificates to local stores and businesses.

"It was just an experiment to begin with," Lockwood told The Southern Illinoisan in 2006, shortly before his retirement. "We didn't know it would work. I just knew that what we were doing wasn't working."

“We didn’t save everyone. There are quite a few people who went through and are fully-functioning, productive members of society. They have jobs and families,” Olson said.

In 1982, Lockwood started a program to allow unemployed persons who could not afford to pay fines for traffic offenses in Williamson County to pay by performing public service. He also taught at SIU Law School.

“He taught me, these are people we are dealing with and you need to be compassionate to them because we don’t know what is going on with their lives that brought them to us in the court system,” Olson said, adding that he tries to remember that lesson every day.

There will be no services. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Southern Illinois Parkinson Support Group, P.O. Box 266, Carbondale, IL 62903.


Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News