Barry Sentenced to Three Years of Probation

Marion Barry speaks to reporters outside the courthouse. In March, Barry was sentenced to three years supervised probation for failure to pay federal and D.C. income taxes. Behind him is son Christopher Barry.
Marion Barry speaks to reporters outside the courthouse. In March, Barry was sentenced to three years supervised probation for failure to pay federal and D.C. income taxes. Behind him is son Christopher Barry. (By Linda Davidson -- The Washington Post)

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By Debbi Wilgoren and Yolanda Woodlee
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 10, 2006

A subdued, apologetic D.C. Council member Marion Barry was sentenced yesterday to three years of supervised probation for misdemeanor charges based on his failure to file income tax returns.

The former four-term mayor, who failed a court-ordered drug test after his guilty plea in the fall, must undergo further drug testing as a condition of his probation.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson said Barry also must negotiate a plan to settle his tax debt: Based on preliminary returns, he could owe as much as $246,000 after failing to file federal and D.C. returns for six years.

Barry (D), who turned 70 this week, could be jailed if he violates the terms of his probation. He would find himself back in court, for example, if he again used drugs, failed to cooperate with the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue and the Internal Revenue Service or skipped any drug-treatment sessions that might be ordered by the probation office.

Speaking in his trademark low mumble, Barry apologized profusely to the court, D.C. residents and the nation, saying he was "deeply sorry" for failing to pay taxes and for relapsing into drug use.

Barry told Robinson that he did not pay taxes from 1999 to 2004 -- years in which he was a consultant and, prosecutors said, earned more than $530,000 -- because he was broke.

"I'm the kind of person who spends a lot of time worrying about other people and not taking care of myself financially," he said.

Barry left the mayor's office in January 1999 and was elected to the Ward 8 council seat in November 2004. He is paid $92,520 a year as a council member.

"He regrets making a bad judgment, making a bad choice," defense attorney Frederick D. Cooke Jr. told the judge, speaking in a courtroom that was packed with dozens of curious onlookers and Barry supporters.

"He made it out of weakness, out of a sense of embarrassment that he found himself in a position of being unable to pay his taxes," Cooke said.

Barry spoke at length about his battle with drug and alcohol addiction, which he said dates to January 1990, when he was caught smoking crack cocaine in a federal sting operation at a downtown Washington hotel.

He said that he has completed a treatment program and taken at least 12 subsequent tests since testing positive for marijuana and cocaine use in November and that he has come up clean each time.


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