CHARLESTON, W.VA. -- Mayor Mike Roark, accused of conspiracy, drug possession and distribution and persuading a witness to lie to a grand jury, pleaded guilty yesterday to six misdemeanor counts of cocaine possession and agreed to resign by Tuesday.
Roark, 41, faces a $5,000 fine and one year in jail on each count under the plea agreement, reached just before prosecutors and the defense were to finish selecting a jury for his trial.
"I'd just briefly like to apologize to the citizens of Charleston for the embarrassment they've suffered," Roark said after the hearing.
Roark, a Republican, is a former Kanawha County prosecutor and a one-time assistant U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh. He had been plagued for years by rumors of drug use, which became an issue when he was reelected in a landslide last April over former mayor John Hutchinson.
Roark, often mentioned as a potential gubernatorial or congressional candidate, had contended that the charges were politically motivated. The indictment accused him of having cocaine at a Willie Nelson concert, in a high school parking lot, on a whitewater rafting trip and on other occasions.
Sentencing is expected after about five weeks. U.S. Attorney Michael Carey said his office will have no recommendation on the penalty.