TRAVERSE CITY — Christopher Cooke turned the podium away from the judge to face Clarence Kenyon Gomery, the man who pleaded guilty to soliciting Cooke's murder.
Cooke described how his life turned to one of paranoia after he learned of Gomery's planned attempt on his life.
"I don't sleep well, I don't eat well," Cooke said. "I wake up several times a night and load and unload my shotgun."
Thirteenth Circuit Court Judge Philip Rodgers sentenced Gomery, 59, to 72 to 240 months, or six to 20 years, for soliciting Cooke's murder. Gomery, a former prosecutor and once-prominent defense attorney, asked Dale Fisher, a dock installer and convicted felon, to kill Cooke for $20,000.
Fisher reported the request to authorities, who then rigged Fisher with a recording device for his next conversation with Gomery.
"I believe what led us here today was a combination of greed and hubris," Rodgers said.
Cooke represented a former Gomery client, Fred Topous, in a 2013 civil trial that ended with a judge imposing more than $300,000 in sanctions on Gomery. Authorities believe that and a subsequent bankruptcy filing gave Gomery motive to seek Cooke's death.
Gomery spoke in court and said he regrets any pain and anxiety he caused the Cooke family. He said he'd spent his six months in solitary confinement thinking about the incident.
"There’s no reason or excuse for what I did,” Gomery said. “I have no one to blame but myself.”
A jury convicted Gomery of fraud and malpractice in May 2013 after he urged Topous to buy the Mitchell Creek Golf Course property. An operating agreement gave Gomery 50 percent ownership and interest, even though he never paid for the property.
Cooke called the sentence fair.
"It was roughly what I expected," Cooke said.
He said in court that Gomery could have simply given the property back at any point and avoided the whole situation. Instead, he dug himself in a deeper and deeper hole, eventually filing for bankruptcy and soliciting Cooke's murder.
"The reason you did this is because you didn’t want to do the right thing," Cooke said. "Until you accept that there's not going to be redemption."
Rodgers called Gomery's criminal actions against Cooke as foolish as his earlier civil actions.
"I will admit that the crime itself is as ill-conceived and clumsily handled as was the original theft that spawned it," Rodgers said. "I listened to those tapes with this amazing sense of frustration at the overall imbecility of it, the stupidity of it, the moronic combination of a perfect storm of idiot and co-conspirator."