Seeking Clemency for LaVonne Roach

'I have paid my debt to society': Lakota woman locked up on first offense

Seeks clemency after 21 years in lock up
‘I have paid my debt to society.’
By Richie Richards
Native Sun News Today Correspondent

PIERRE – After spending the past twenty-one years behind bars for a 1997 conviction of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, LaVonne Roach, 53, and her family are seeking clemency for the Rapid City native.

Originally sentenced to thirty years in federal prison, Roach has been housed in the FCI Dublin – Unit F in Dublin, California, for a majority of her time behind bars. She originally filed for clemency with the Clemency Project in 2014, under the Obama administration.

The CAN-DO Justice through Clemency project has been a strong supporter of Roach and her family for the past several years and she is currently listed as #7 on their list of possible inmates they would like to see given clemency.

LaVonne Roach was a part of a meth and drug ring in Rapid City back in the 1990’s. She was arrested and convicted along with Rodney Jackson and Kevin Eagle Tail. Of the three convicted in this conspiracy, Roach received the longest sentence of thirty years. In court documents, it states Mario Osario controlled the distribution network in Rapid City by moving methamphetamine from California to the Black Hills town byway of Salt Lake City. The meth supplied by Osario was distributed to many users and dealers in the drug trade in Rapid City.

LaVonne Roach has been in federal prison sentenced to 30 years for conspiracy to distribute meth. During her time in prison, she has received many certificates and has helped others along her journey to freedom. Photo courtesy Clarissa Brown

Sergio Gutierez is named in the court documents as a person who helped control the money and drugs coming in and out of the state.

Once Mario Osario was arrested and 2.74 pounds of methamphetamine were seized as he was bringing the drug into the Rapid City area, he agreed to cooperate with law enforcement officials and was sent to a residence to make a “controlled delivery”. It was during this “delivery” for detectives, that Osario instead gained possession of a gun and committed suicide shortly after the meeting to set up the transaction.

Following the death of Osario, the court documents state Gutierez continued to supply the drug ring and business continued in Rapid City. Roach’s involvement in the conspiracy continued until she was arrested. Native Sun News Today interviewed LaVonne Roach via email and through a phone conversation from the unit she is housed in, in Dublin, CA to learn more about her addiction and conviction.

Roach makes no excuses for her being a “partier.” She is upfront and honest about her being a part of the party crowd in Rapid City. It was during a night out that she was introduced to Mario Osario. Before meeting the now-deceased drug kingpin, she claims to never have tried meth. The drug did not have as strong of a presence in Rapid City as it does today.

LaVonne Roach and her family. Photo Can-Do Clemency

Meth is one of the most addictive drugs on the market. Users claim that it only takes one hit to become addicted to this powerful chemical. “It began the day I met Mario and he introduced me to the drug and thereafter supplied me with it,’’ said Roach of the beginning stages of her meth addiction.

Roach claims she had bulimia and generally felt lethargic. The meth gave her energy, kept hunger at bay, and made her feel good about herself. She said she was a prime target for a meth dealer because she was known within the party community of Rapid City. She had connections.

It was not long before the addict/dealer became fully entrenched in her addiction. “I knew that my addiction was out of control when I didn’t care if I lived or died. I knew it was hurting my family but I couldn’t stop. I felt they would have been better off if I were dead,” she said. Soon after, she began a relationship with Mario Osario, her supplier.

Being romantically involved with a major supplier is an addicts dream. The access to money and meth was too hard to say no to. “I began a relationship with Mario. At first it was okay, he wined and dined me. But the drugs were interfering with my home life with my children and I wanted to stop. That's when things got bad. He was a man who liked control,” said Roach. The relationship was extremely toxic and abusive. Roach claims the relationship was more about control, isolation and emotional/verbal abuse, but she accepts her role in the distribution of meth and the conspiracy she was convicted of regardless of the terms of her relationship.

“My addiction had gotten so bad that my parents took my children from me. I lived in their house for years. He moved me out and rented me a house, eventually moving me to Los Angeles not long after. He isolated me from my family and friends. I was kept in this apartment not knowing the number to the landline, never given money, but provided the essentials and rewarded when I was ‘good’,” she said. This isolation kept her in a manic state which furthered her addiction. This control kept her high, according to Roach.

Initially, Roach claims she was involved in the dropping off of drugs and picking up of money for Osario and eventually she became an addict/dealer who controlled her own network of users and lower-level street dealers. She has accepted full responsibility for her actions and makes no excuses for her participation.

 “I am guilty of selling meth, that is what they charged me for, but Sergio Gutierez stated that he delivered to me over 80 kilos of meth. I took it to trial because that is a lie and I told my attorney I won't plead to a lie,” she said of the trial which she feels was unfair to her case.

LaVonne Roach has her own page on the CAN-DO Clemency website. According to the statistics provided on her page, she has had quite the exemplary record as an inmate in Dublin:
• Completed non-residential drug program
• Served as a GED tutor for three years to other inmates
• Completed two 9-month certificate programs for Riverland Community College (Office Systems and Administrative Assistant)
• Completed 2-year Paralegal program for Blackstones
• Received a 9-month certificate for Accounting with Las Positas
• Mentored with CHOICES in Dublin, CA – a program which talks to high-risk teens
• Completed 9-month treatment program with Pathways
• Took an English and Sociology course through Ohio University
• Received several certificates for psychology programs
• Mentored in the Native American Talking Circle
• Spokesperson for the Native America Religious Group for five years
• Taught basic paralegal research to other female inmates


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