- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 6, 2005

DALLAS — A West Texas district attorney, once publicly praised for his efforts to stamp out narcotics in his part of the Panhandle, faces federal drug charges that could put him in jail for the rest of his life.

Rick Roach, 55, remains in a court-ordered inpatient drug-treatment facility in Dallas.

He likely will be taken back to the Panhandle city of Pampa for a state civil suit hearing on Feb. 14 — a case that is asking for his removal from office — and to Amarillo the next day for pretrial matters concerning the federal narcotics charges.

Mr. Roach, a Republican who first won election in 2000 with a strong anti-drug campaign, was arrested in a Gray County courtroom on Jan. 11 as several of his peers looked on in amazement.

After confiscating two handguns from the district attorney’s briefcase, FBI agents converged on Mr. Roach’s home, his office and an apartment rented by the district attorney’s office. According to court documents, officials said they found 35 more guns, along with a cache of cocaine, methamphetamines, marijuana, scales and syringes.

Formal charges of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamines and cocaine were filed.

Because — federal agents says — he was “an unlawful user” and was “addicted to a controlled substance,” the government also charged him with illegally possessing the weapons.

Bill Kelly, Mr. Roach’s lawyer, played down the significance of the cache of weapons.

“A lot of people collect guns,” said Mr. Kelly in Amarillo, adding, “And they’re certainly not illegal in doing so. This is hunters’ country.”

Since Mr. Roach was sent to Dallas for evaluation and treatment, additional facts have been made public by the government and speculation about where Mr. Roach obtained the drugs has run rampant.

Last August, for example, the district attorney brought a court order to the Texas Department of Public Safety laboratory in Amarillo to check out two pounds of methamphetamines, saying he needed the substance for training drug dogs. None of the amphetamines were returned.

Apparently, it was Mr. Roach’s personal behavior that brought about the unusual investigation.

Lawyers and law-enforcement officers in Pampa and Amarillo told stories about how he suffered wild mood swings and paranoia in the past few months, behaved irrationally and often disappeared — even with scheduled activities on his docket.

He told at least one of his employees about his amphetamine use, court documents indicate. He told the associate that he had become hooked on amphetamines in 2003 after he helped seize a stash. He then became “a regular user,” the associate told authorities.

Mr. Roach was 11 days into his second term when arrested. He is the district attorney for Texas’ 31st Judicial District — the five sparsely populated Panhandle counties of Gray, Hemphill, Roberts, Wheeler and Lipscomb.

Some in Pampa say Mr. Roach’s irascibility might not have been the result of drug addiction, but simply a confrontational personality.

Once, angered by demands made by constituents, he locked the district attorney’s office from the public for a short time. On other occasions, he sued newspapers the Pampa News and Canadian Record for libel. The cases were dismissed.

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