Pubdate: Tue, 15 Mar 2005
Source: Bradenton Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2005 Bradenton Herald
Author: Betsy Blaney, Associated Press
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


PAMPA, Texas - Rick Roach got elected district attorney in West Texas on a 
vow to rid the streets of drug dealers and users, and he went after them 

"Drugs, drug usage, drug trafficking has become a scourge in our society," 
Roach thundered during closing arguments at a drug trial that sent a 
30-year-old man to prison for 60 years in 2001.

Few guessed, until recently at least, the hypocrisy behind it all: Roach 
himself did drugs.

Roach, 55, was arrested inside a courtroom Jan. 11 and charged with 
possessing methamphetamine and cocaine. In February, he took a plea bargain 
on one charge - possession of a gun by a drug addict. He could get up to 10 
years in prison when he is sentenced in mid-April.

Roach told The New York Times that he had suffered from depression since 
age 13, and that he used illegal drugs to medicate himself.

"I just sort of, you might say, went nuts: I made irrational and wrong 
decisions," he told the newspaper. "There's no excuse. I've gotten what I 

Now under house arrest at his mother's home until sentencing, he declined 
to comment to the Associated Press. An electronic monitoring device 
prohibits him from venturing more than 200 feet from the house.

The tough-on-drugs D.A. won re-election in November in his five-county 
Texas Panhandle district and was just days into his second term when he was 

John Mann, the district attorney who lost to Roach in 2000, said he noticed 
a difference in the man about 18 months before Roach stepped down in 
February. Roach had "kind of backed off" drug prosecutions, Mann said.

"I think it was probably his inability to be coherent," Mann said. "I saw 
him acting like a fool for a year and half."

Roach became prone to extreme mood swings and was sometimes incoherent and 
paranoid, according to court documents. He also had lost 30 pounds and his 
skin was sallow.

Shortly before his arrest, a worker in his office in Pampa found a syringe 
containing meth residue floating in a toilet. And according to court 
records, Roach shot up drugs in front of an employee in his office.

"Who in their right mind would inject themselves in front of an employee?" 
Roach told the Times.

He also had trouble sitting still and had unexplained absences from work. 
In December, he appeared "wired" during a court hearing, fumbling through 
papers and repeating what defense lawyers said until a judge told him to be 
quiet, Mann said.

That same month, outside a different courtroom, Roach was jumpy and could 
not carry on a coherent conversation, prompting courthouse employees to 
speculate that he was "on something," said Leslie Breeding, the Roberts 
County attorney.

"There have been rumors for years, but this time it was so pronounced and 
so obvious it really couldn't be ignored," Breeding said.

Roach was arrested after federal agents said they were tipped off by people 
in law enforcement.

David Holmes, a prosecutor under Roach between 2001 and 2003, said Roach at 
times was friendly and talked about his Christianity; he even sang a few 
times in a gospel band. But more often, Roach was demeaning, controlling 
and paranoid, he said.

Roach started locking the main door at his courthouse office, requiring any 
visitor to knock before seeing the receptionist. Every Friday afternoon, he 
sent his staff home and stayed alone in the office, where he kept several 
loaded guns. Roach rarely tried drug cases himself, but made those 
prosecutions his priority.
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