Charleston mayor pleads guilty to drug charges

Mayor Mike Roark yesterday admitted he had used cocaine. He pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor counts of cocaine possession as part of an agreement requiring him to resign from office by Tuesday. He will be subject to a $5,000 fine and one year in jail on each of the six counts as part of the plea agreement, which was reached just before the defense and prosecutors were to finish selecting a jury for the mayor's trial.

Before his admission yesterday, the mayor had insisted that he never used cocaine. A former Kanawha County prosecutor and a one-time assistant US attorney in Pittsburgh, he had pleaded innocent to 27 drug-conspiracy, possession, and distribution counts. He had also pleaded innocent on three counts of conspiring to obstruct justice by persuading a witness to lie to a grand jury.

Mr. Roark, who agreed to resign by next Tuesday, had been beset for years by rumors of his drug use, which became a major issue when he was reelected in a landslide over former Mayor John Hutchinson last April.

The Republican mayor had long been mentioned as a potential GOP gubernatorial or congressional candidate.

Roark said he has not used a controlled substance in the past 2 to 3 years.

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