Barry Says Kidney Issues Kept Him From Filing Taxes

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 11, 2009; B04

D.C. Council member Marion Barry said last night that he has been undergoing dialysis and expects to have a kidney transplant, which has distracted him from filing a recent tax return.

His failure to file a 2007 return has led prosecutors to urge a judge to revoke his probation for past tax offenses and send him to jail.

Barry (D-Ward 8), a former D.C. mayor, said in an interview with WUSA-TV (Channel 9) that his health matters have been "consuming" and have dominated his thinking.

He said there was "no excuse" for not filing the 2007 return, but "that's the reason." He said he would "absolutely" file if his return has not already been sent in.

Prosecutors have said he has failed to file his taxes on time in eight of the past nine years. He was placed on probation after pleading guilty in 2005 to not filing from 1999 to 2004, a period when he did not hold office.

In a motion filed in U.S. District Court, an assistant U.S. attorney called Barry's conduct regarding the 2007 tax year indefensible, citing his post as a public official.

In an interview posted on the WUSA Web site, parts of which were aired, Barry, 72, said he had had diabetes and high blood pressure -- conditions that might damage the kidneys -- for about 20 years.

He said he has been undergoing dialysis, which performs the function of the kidneys, three times a week for four hours at a time.

He said he was "very blessed" that a compatible donor had been quickly found.

Barry's kidney problems had been known but not been previously reported out of privacy concerns.

In the past, he called legal efforts to jail him over tax issues "frivolous" and termed his tax problems a "personal matter."

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