The mayor of Charleston, W.Va., who since 1983 has denied rumors of illegal drug use, was indicted yesterday on charges of distributing and possessing cocaine and then obstructing justice by persuading a woman with whom he allegedly used cocaine to lie about it before a federal grand jury.
Mayor James E. (Mike) Roark, 41, a Republican beginning his second term, was indicted on 30 felony and misdemeanor counts, including possession of cocaine in his mayoral office and in a car bearing official city tags.
Roark, a former Justice Department attorney with the Organized Crime Strike Force, earned a reputation as Kanawha County's tough prosecuting attorney whose drug sweeps produced dozens of arrests.
Rumors of drug use have hounded Roark since his first mayoral campaign in 1983, when he was accused of stealing cocaine that had been seized as evidence by police. A vial of cocaine had vanished from an evidence locker to which Roark and three other people had access.
Roark went on to unseat the Democratic mayor, and he was reelected last year with 60 percent of the vote despite new cocaine allegations that surfaced three months before the election.
George D. Hodges, a real estate executive and convicted drug dealer, testifying at the drug trial of a Charleston businessmen, said that he and the mayor used cocaine during a white-water rafting trip in October 1984 and that he had sold Roark cocaine several times.
"I am not guilty of the charges. . . although after 3 1/2 years I'm pleased to have the opportunity to know what the charges are," Roark said at a news conference.
"I expect to vigorously, aggressively and successfully participate in my defense in court," he said, adding that he does not intend to resign.
Yesterday's indictment, returned after an 18-month investigation by a drug-enforcement task force, charges Roark with 27 counts of distributing or possessing cocaine between June 1980 and April 1986, including at his home before he attended a Willie Nelson concert, in the parking lot of South Charleston High School and in the men's restroom of a downtown Charleston pub.
In addition, Roark is accused of obstructing justice by having an unnamed woman lie to federal investigators and to the grand jury.
The indictment alleges that the woman falsely testified that she had never seen Roark use cocaine when she and the mayor, who is divorced, "used cocaine in each other's presence and distributed cocaine to each other on multiple occasions."
The woman also lied when she denied seeing a quarter ounce of cocaine and nine $100 bills in a book at Roark's house, the indictment alleges.
Rumors that Roark was under investigation on drug charges have circulated in Charleston for months.
An indictment had been expected earlier this week, at the last scheduled session of the grand jury.