Chris Roberts suicide deserves the benefit of the doubt from us.
Chris Roberts, dead at 42
Chris Roberts died yesterday, down off Engineer’s Road in Plaquemine Parish. From Da Paper:
The Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into Roberts’ death, which an agency spokesman described as an apparent suicide. The spokesman declined to elaborate.
A law enforcement source with knowledge of the situation said Roberts’ parents had reported him missing to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office earlier Wednesday. The Sheriff’s Office tracked his cellphone to a wooded area off Engineers Road in Belle Chasse, near the Jefferson Parish line, and found his body there.
Roberts resigned his seat on the Jefferson Parish Council last year, under the shadow of an extensive federal indictment. He served on the Council for fifteen years. Before his Council service, Roberts sat on the Jefferson Parish School Board. For those unfamiliar with the workings of the Jefferson Parish Council, the body consists of five district and two at-large members. Since so much of Jefferson Parish is unincorporated, the district members function as the “mayors” of their respective neighborhoods. When a district member decides an issue, the others usually respect their decision and vote as they do. Therefore, politicians like Roberts carry a lot of influence.
Until they’re indicted by feds, that is.
Fall from grace
In 2018, the Department of Justice dropped a pallet of bricks on Roberts, with an extensive indictment filing. Again, from Vargas at Da Paper:
Most of the counts related to his work managing a Terrytown-based landscaping company from which he allegedly used money for personal purchases. Roberts was also accused of hiding hundreds of thousands of dollars in income over a seven-year period, and only filing amended tax returns accounting for the income after he learned of the federal inquiry.
The indictment painted a picture of Roberts as a profligate spender who used business and campaign funds to purchase a $16,000 engagement ring and spent thousands more at area casinos.
Then, to make matters worse:
In October, federal prosecutors added 10 new wire fraud counts to the indictment, ramping up the pressure on him. The new indictment also accused Roberts of improperly spending business funds.
So, the whole notion of deputies finding this guy dead in the woods, likely by his own hand, doesn’t sound far-fetched. When I read the initial tweets, it sounded like a classic case of, get your affairs in order and take care of your problems.
Benefit of the doubt
Chris Roberts presented himself as an arrogant asshole on social media. His attacks on Mike Yennni were bush league. His supporters say he worked hard for his district. The feds say he’s a thief. Suffering from depression was never part of Roberts’ public persona. That doesn’t mean it didn’t exist! So many people struggle with depression, and it does indeed claim them. I can see the weight of his world crashing in on him taking that toll.
“Doing the right thing for the family” isn’t the same these days. People do time for white-collar crime regularly. They come back from prison and often do right by the community. It’s not like a guy like Roberts faced hard time for his crimes.
Influence of family and friends
People coping with depression need a support network. If someone doesn’t feel that support, their depression can deepen. That can lead to suicide attempts as a cry for help. Or worse, you go out to the woods and end it. It’s certainly unclear how much support for his condition Roberts got from friends and family. It’s too late for Roberts, but it’s not too late for those you care for. Check your people.