Sonoma County drug court graduate charged in string of burglaries, break-ins
A Santa Rosa woman who twice avoided prison by graduating from Sonoma County’s vaunted drug court program has been arrested in a string of new burglaries and car break-ins spanning Sonoma and Napa counties.
The crime spree and allegations against Jasmine Roper, 39, appear to be another cautionary tale about the strong grip of drug addiction and its implications for many of those caught in the criminal justice system.
Among the privileges the methamphetamine-addicted woman regained at the time of her April 7 graduation was custody of her 3-year-old daughter. Roper took that daughter along in recent months as she broke into some cars and homes in the two counties, according to sheriff’s officials.
The mother of three appeared before Judge Shelly Averill on Thursday for her arraignment on a five new felonies prosecutors believe were committed since April.
“She brought her daughter on two of the four residential burglaries” in Sonoma County, sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Raasch said.
Drug court officials expressed disappointment to see Roper back in jail. Just months ago, she was featured as one of the program’s shining successes in a story in The Press Democrat.
Chief Deputy Public Defender Mike Perry, who helped guide Roper and others during the nine-month program, said drug court helps a high percentage of people who attend - but not all. He didn’t have statistics on the number who go on to commit new crimes.
“Addiction is a disease that never goes away,” Perry said outside court.
Roper first attended the 19-year-old program that includes random drug testing and weekly court appearances in 2013. She relapsed after graduating and was forced to give up two of her three children.
She was admitted a second time and graduated in an emotional ceremony. Her plan was to live with her daughter and father, work for a limousine company as a driver and look toward her goal of someday opening her own business.
“Everything about my life is different today,” Roper then told Judge Ken Gnoss, who runs drug court, as she explained she had no desire to return to a life of drugs and crime.
But authorities said things didn’t work out.
Roper was first arrested Friday night by Napa County detectives on suspicion of four residential burglaries and an attack on a resident. She was freed after posting $100,000 bail, only to be arrested Monday in Sonoma County on other theft-related charges.
Her bail is set at $500,000 because of concerns she would flee or commit more crimes if she were able to get out.
Averill, who does not preside over drug court, refused a request to reduce Roper’s bail at her first appearance Wednesday, citing the “totality” of the allegations. She also acknowledged Roper’s previous cases and “opportunities to make other choices.”
“This is not Ms. Roper’s first appearance in this court or her first run-in with law enforcement in terms of these offenses,” Averill told her lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Melissa Coughlin.
Sheriff’s detectives in both counties believe Roper was working with a male accomplice. He remained at large Thursday afternoon.
Her return to jail started with a trespassing case last week at a home near Calistoga after Roper and a man were seen jumping a fence on private property, Napa County Sheriff’s Capt. Doug Pike said.
The homeowner confronted them and pulled out his cellphone to take their photo. Roper allegedly hit him a few times and tried to grab his phone.
The pair left the Calistoga property in two cars. The homeowner called deputies to report the incident and showed detectives photos of the vehicles and the pair.
Pike credited the man for being “quick on the draw” with his phone. The photos launched the two-county investigations.
Roper had been driving a car registered to her and that information led Napa detectives to Sonoma County.
Napa detectives found evidence connecting Roper to four burglaries at rural Napa-area homes, including one case where she’d taken her young child with her, Pike said.
In one of the Napa burglaries a red Porsche was taken, as well as two bolt-action hunting rifles. The car was found parked at an upscale Napa hotel but the rifles remained missing.
Napa detectives also found stolen property that connected Roper to Sonoma County burglaries and alerted their counterparts here.
Raasch said so far detectives have linked Roper to car burglaries on July 28 at two wineries in Forestville and Graton, as well as the burglaries of three cars belonging to vineyard workers in which cellphones and a wallet were taken. A credit card from the wallet was used at a Forestville store and the transaction was captured on store surveillance video, he said. The video shows the woman had her daughter with her.
Other evidence found from search warrants included connections to rural home burglaries on July 21 and Aug. 1 at opposite ends of the county.
The burglaries have included getting into some locked and unlocked vehicles, as well as breaking windows to get into some homes, Raasch said.
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