Former TX DA Gets 18 Years for Drug Offenses

Last year we wrote a lot about former Texas DA Rick Roach who while prosecuting drug defendants was secretly shooting up. He ran for DA using a get tough on drugs platform.

Today Roach was sentenced to 18 years in jail.

Monday's plea is one of the final trial proceedings in Roach's case, which began with his arrest by FBI agents in a Gray County courtroom in January 2005.

A federal grand jury later indicted him on four charges of possession of methamphetamine, cocaine and guns. Roach resigned from office in February, pleaded guilty to a federal weapons charge and was sentenced to federal prison in June 2005.

As I opined earlier, Roach now becomes another casualty of the drug war. What a shame. There is no pleasure to be taken from his downfall. Instead, we should learn from it. Drug addiction is an illness and should be treated as one.

On the other hand, no one can excuse his hypocrisy.

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    Re: Former TX DA Gets 18 Years for Drug Offenses (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 02:22:42 PM EST
    Tragic. And, now, we get to pay for this guy's keep for the next generation. Slightly OT (but not really), I note hearing a couple weeks ago, on NPR or BBC I think, a piece about how the Swiss are beating hard drug addiction, by treating it as a chronic disease. They prescribe syringes and the addict's drug - whatever it might be - but the addict has to go in daily to the clinic to get their fix (one fix at a time, so if you're a two-a-day, it's two trips), all under medical supervision. They get a clean room, clean works, and clean dope.* By doing this, they take away a lot of the boundary-transgressing-cool that attracts the young into drugs (and they wind up hooked before they know it), and youths turn out to view the addicts as seriously ill people. Result - the average age of addicts is going up rapidly as (a) they get to live longer because it's not as dangerous and (b) young people see how ugly addiction is, deem it seriously uncool, and don't enter the addict population. And addict related crime is down, because they don't have to steal to support their habit. This all makes entirely too much sense, refuses to judge the addicts as evil, and would put a hell of a lot of criminal justice system government employees out of work (not to mention depriving them of the regular chance to kick some ass, toss peoples' houses and roust minorities), so there's absolutely no chance of something as humane as this program ever getting off the ground in this country. Gawd bless 'murca. * When they want to get clean, there's help for that, too.

    Re: Former TX DA Gets 18 Years for Drug Offenses (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jlvngstn on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 02:23:17 PM EST
    It stinks that he was prosecuting people while using, but 18 years? Rapists get less time.

    I take no joy in anyone ruining their life and long prison sentences for drug possession are unfair and counter-productive in my opinion, but (See: the rush Limbaugh thread I'm sure has to be here somewhere) shameless hypocrites are difficult people for whom to muster sympathy even when subjected overkill) In real terms what does an 18 year sentence mean in Texas? Is the state sentence consecutive to or concurrent with the federal sentence? (I'm being lazy and don't want to register with Amarillo NP site-- the next thing of interest to occur there will likely be long after I'm dead.)

    Re: Former TX DA Gets 18 Years for Drug Offenses (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 02:36:24 PM EST
    18 years! god damn. for possession? talk about draconian. remind me not to have any fun in Texas.

    Re: Former TX DA Gets 18 Years for Drug Offenses (none / 0) (#5)
    by Patrick on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 03:00:31 PM EST
    18 years? Wow! I'm assuming that since he was the District Attorney he didn't have a significant criminal history. Is the fact that he was a DA cause for the long sentence, or do they really have an 18 year term for possession? I'm too will not register for another on-line newspaper. Scribe, Interesting program. What is the incentive to participate? Are drugs otherwise illegal to possess? Do you have a link where I could read more about it?

    Re: Former TX DA Gets 18 Years for Drug Offenses (none / 0) (#6)
    by Sailor on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 03:04:35 PM EST
    coke and meth!? No wonder he was a tireless prosecutor;-) The sentence would be fair if he got 6 months for the drug and gun possesion, and 17.5 years for abusing his office.

    Re: Former TX DA Gets 18 Years for Drug Offenses (none / 0) (#7)
    by Patrick on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 03:37:14 PM EST
    According to the previous TL thread he plead guilty to being an addict in possession of a firearm, the drug charges were dismissed. Of course that same thread said he faced up to 10 years in jail....So somehow he got 8 more. Sailor, I didn't think he was charged with abuse of office, nor did I see it. I don't know if hypocrisy counts as abuse in your definition, if so, then I guess there's plenty of evidence. But hypocrisy isn't a crime as far as I know.

    Re: Former TX DA Gets 18 Years for Drug Offenses (none / 0) (#8)
    by jimcee on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 04:40:47 PM EST
    Sailor has it just about right.

    Re: Former TX DA Gets 18 Years for Drug Offenses (none / 0) (#9)
    by Aaron on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 05:03:35 PM EST
    I don't know where Mr. District Attorney is going to go to prison, federal penitentiary in Texas I expect, but I imagine he's going to need some protection from some of the other meth dealers he's put away. I don't give a crap about cocaine, coke dealers are teddy bears compared to methamphetamine traffickers. Anybody see the movie The Salton Sea? Vincent D'Onofrio gave a convincing characterization of the kind of pathological paranoid psychotics you'll run into in that business. Hang around those people long enough and it will start to rub off. A district attorney doing methamphetamine on the job, so what about all those cases he prosecuted under the influence, that stuff definitely renders you totally incompetent, as in lacking any moral compass whatsoever. Is anybody lining up for new trials? God created Gak to keep the meth dealers from ruling the world.

    Re: Former TX DA Gets 18 Years for Drug Offenses (none / 0) (#10)
    by Sailor on Tue Jun 27, 2006 at 06:26:48 PM EST
    Patrick, I proposed how I thought that 18 years would be justified.
    coke dealers are teddy bears compared to methamphetamine traffickers
    Well that's just plain dumb, especially since the commenter went on to say 'watch this movie if you don't believe me' ... hey, ever seen Scarface? BTW, those are MOVIES! Sheesh. If you are addicted, and solvent, your dealers are your best friends, (the drug is your lover), if you deal in large amounts of product/money, you become ruthless or you get out. Whether it is Enron or coke or meth, you do anything to protect your own. At that level, it ain't the product, it's the greed.

    Re: Former TX DA Gets 18 Years for Drug Offenses (none / 0) (#11)
    by scribe on Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 05:26:14 AM EST
    Patrick It was an audio clip on either NPR or the BBC world news that my local NPR bporadcasts while I'm driving to work - about 2 weeks ago. Sorry I don't have a more direct link than that. As to incentives to come into the program, uh, what incentives would an addict need other than free (or really cheap) dope, without the worries of god-knows-what used to cut it or a hot dose, clean needles, no need to see a skeevy dealer or worry about getting busted, etc.? I mean, really?

    My understanding is that he previously received a 5 year term in federal court after peleading guilty for being a drug addict unlawfully in possession of firearms. (Other charges were dismissed in exchange for that plea.) A 5 year federal sentence will require service of approximately 4 years and andf 80 days. These state sentence related to separate state charges. My questions are was the state time run concurrent or consecutive and in real terms what does an "18 year" sentence mean in Texas. With good time credits and parole eligibility in many jurisdictions announced sentences bear little relation to the time the person must actually serve. I don't know about Texas (which is why I ask) but in many jurisdiction people are eligible for parole after seving but a 1/4 of the announced sentence. It's possible (if the sentence is run concurrent to the federal time and Texas has generous parole statutes) that he would be eligible for state parole very close in time to when he would complete the federal sentence.

    I found a non-subscription site with an AP story: By BETSY BLANEY / Associated Press ... received an 18-year state prison term to go along with a federal sentence, both on drug-related convictions.... ... Roach, already in federal prison after pleading guilty and getting five years on a drug-related firearms charge last year, will serve the sentences concurrently.
    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/APStories/stories/D8IGPV7O0.html the link to thhe complete story

    Re: Former TX DA Gets 18 Years for Drug Offenses (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 07:05:12 AM EST
    Did he actually hurt anybody? Where's the victim?

    It's not about whether it SHOULD be illegal. That's for Congress and state legislatures. It is illegal and he knowingly violated the law while not merely be sworn to uphold and follow the law as are all office-holders generally, he was specifically required to ENFORCE the law. Of all the potential poster-boys for the unfairness of the "war on drugs," this guy would be near the bottom of any list I would make. Add the fact he shamelessly promoted himself for personal advantage as a tough on crime (including drug crimes) candidate. Consider also, that even if he didn't directly corrupt his office because of his drug involvement, he undoubtedly created the appearance of improriety and contributed to the distrust of the fairness of the legal system and i simply find it impossible to feel much sympathy. Take the many 20 year old kids who peddle relatively small amounts of crack and get a 20 year federal sentence (which means approximately 17 years in prison) and I find it much easier to be disturbed.

    By the way, while "hypocricy" shouldn't be a factor in assessing guilt, I definitely feel it is an appropriate factor for a court to consider in determining where within the range of potential lawful sentences it chooses to sentence a particular defendant.

    Re: Former TX DA Gets 18 Years for Drug Offenses (none / 0) (#18)
    by Sailor on Wed Jun 28, 2006 at 04:02:55 PM EST
    Did he actually hurt anybody?
    He prosecuted people for doing drugs while he was doing drugs. I think that's pretty hurtful.

    He hurt society. the victimless crime rationale works to some extent with run of the mill drug users. It doesn't work at all when the elected prosecutor breaks the laws he is charged with enforcing. On top of that, imagine the money and resources that otherwise could be put to better use that will be necessary to handle all the appeals and habeas actions brought by persons convicted duting his tenure.

    Re: Former TX DA Gets 18 Years for Drug Offenses (none / 0) (#20)
    by kdog on Thu Jun 29, 2006 at 10:05:26 AM EST
    He wasn't charged with misusing his office or position guys, he was charged for possesion. Did him possesing drugs hurt anybody? No. His job was locking up drug users and dealers...that hurts somebody. I can understand 18 years for denying someone their liberty over some dope...but not for possesion.