Because of an editing error, some editions yesterday incorrectly said that witnesses in the trial of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry had been given blanket promises that they would not be prosecuted. (Published 7/22/90)

It was not surprising this week when prosecutors insisted that Bettye L. Smith, hospitalized in Ten- nessee, be arrested and flown here to testify against Mayor Marion Barry despite a doctor's assertion that she was suicidal.

The prosecutors' steadfastness on Smith's appearance was only a manifestation of the hard line prosecutors have been taking with witnesses in the Barry case since the investigation began, according to sources in and out of government.

From the day in December 1988 when D.C. police aborted an undercover drug investigation at the Ramada Inn, law enforcement officers on the case have made clear to potential witnesses that those who don't cooperate could themselves be vulnerable to prosecution or, at least, in for an unpleasant ride.

Since then, witnesses expressing reluctance about testifying against Barry have variously undergone intense scrutiny by investigators, have been arrested and jailed, have been forced into pleading guilty to charges they otherwise most likely would not have faced or found themselves targets of other investigations.

"There was a decision early on," one law enforcement source said, "that the people against whom we had been building prosecutable cases were going to have to plead to something."

When other potential prosecution witnesses, among them some of Barry's closest friends, balked at cooperating, they were given "use immunity" -- a promise their statements would not be used against them, but one that also compelled testimony or left the witness open to being jailed for contempt. Witnesses could no longer claim a constitutional right against providing self-incriminating information.

None of these witnesses have been given a blanket promise that they will not be prosecuted, but that likelihood is remote. Most of the alleged drug use was seen only by Barry and the witness. And most of the witnesses, in fact, were occasional drug users who, under almost any other circumstance, would never have found themselves under criminal threat for what normally would be classified as misdemeanor drug possession.

And further what made this case unusual was the sheer number of witnesses that the prosecution went after and were able to land.

An attorney for Doris Crenshaw, former deputy campaign manager in former vice president Walter Mondale's presidential campaign, summed up the sentiment of a number of witnesses: "Ms. Crenshaw believes that some of us did not make the transition from the sixties we should have, as far as the casual use of drugs is concerned," said attorney A.J. Cooper after Crenshaw testified.

The pressure on some witnesses was overwhelming. D.C. government employee James McWilliams told the jury that he spent huge amounts in legal fees trying to fight off the investigators. "For 15 months I refused to discuss any knowledge of what had taken place on Dec. 19th at the Ramada, and that had produced great stress and strain," McWilliams testified later.

But prosecutors let McWilliams know that if he did not cooperate, they were prepared to seek felony drug distribution charges against him because investigators had discovered that McWilliams had been obtaining cocaine for a close friend, sources said.

In the end, he could no longer be a "loyal soldier," he said. So he pleaded guilty to a charge that he supplied money for Charles Lewis's drug use at the Ramada, and agreed to testify against Barry.

"I was anxious," McWilliams told the jury, "to get my life back together."

Aware from past experience that Barry's friends would not volunteer information about the mayor's alleged drug use, investigators began scouring the lives of Barry friends and employed the full range of investigative tactics. Overall, investigators used their old reliable technique of playing one against the other to gain information.

Meanwhile, the investigators developed criminal cases against some of the witnesses, including McWilliams and Lewis, both of whom eventually testified they were present when Barry smoked crack at the Ramada; as well as restaurateur Hassan H. Mohammadi and longtime Barry friend A. Jeffrey Mitchell.

Mohammadi and Mitchell both had been identified by drug dealers as recipients of cocaine deliveries in a separate federal drug case in Alexandria.

Mohammadi later testified that he initially lied to police when he was interviewed in February 1989. But he said he decided to cooperate nearly a year later when told that he was about to be prosecuted. Mohammadi, who eventually testified that he provided drugs to Barry more than 30 times, pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to possess cocaine.

"I was a good friend to Mr. Mayor," Mohammadi testified. But in the end, he said, he had "no choice" but to help the government because "everybody came from woodwork . . . . The people around him, they already talked to the law enforcement officers, and they already told about me and they already had evidence about me, and they said 'Yeah, you did this.' Yes, I had {to} cooperate."

One of the few in this group who did not eventually plead guilty to a crime was Mitchell, against whom, sources said, investigators had developed the weakest case. Close friends Daniel Butler and Tony Jones -- both identified in court as aiding Barry's drug use and who balked at cooperating -- are still under investigation, according to sources.

At the same time, investigators were looking into potential witnesses who the government believed knew firsthand of Barry's drug use or could corroborate the testimony of others. Many of these witnesses told investigators to go "pound sand" before Barry's January arrest at the Vista Hotel sting, said a source.

Included in this group was former Barry girlfriend Hazel Diane "Rasheeda" Moore, who lied to the grand jury in May 1989, six months after the Ramada Inn incident but before any close Barry friend had agreed to cooperate.

Implicated several months later by Lewis and others who were cooperating, Moore agreed to cooperate in January 1990 and participate in the the Vista sting. She came around at a time when she was broke, barely making it in Los Angeles, and after she was arrested on a drunk driving charge and held without bond on special FBI request.

Other potential witnesses had not been directly contacted by investigators before the Vista operation, but investigators continued to develop information with which to confront them once the timing was right. The Vista sting gave authorities the momentum they needed.

Coupled with a public warning from U.S. Attorney Jay B. Stephens that only a limited time remained for witnesses to come forward and cut a deal, witnesses quietly began to cooperate. Mohammadi and Mitchell were among the first.

"The arrest sparked people to get off the fence," said a source close to the investigation.

With information from Barry intimates such as Mitchell and Mohammadi, investigators confronted others in Barry's inner circle, such as close friend Bettye Smith, former girlfriend Theresa Southerland and lawyer Lloyd N. Moore Jr.

Although investigators were careful not to threaten these people with prosecution for crimes where they did not have credible evidence to prosecute, investigators "played poker face all the time" with them, a source said.

"They really did not know what we did or did not know" about a particular witness's criminal vulnerability, said one source close to the investigation. "They were more aware of the evidence that could exist against them than we were. They knew in their own minds what their potential liability was."

When a witness did not want to cooperate -- as in the case of Bettye Smith -- prosecutors requested judges to order "use immunity". When a witness continued to balk, as in the case of Rose Marie "Maria" McCarthy, prosecutors asked for jail time. McCarthy, a former Barry girlfriend identified by Rasheeda Moore as someone who used drugs with Barry, spent a month in jail before she agreed to cooperate.

Prosecutors did not call McCarthy in their case in chief, but could still call her as a rebuttal witness. A similar decision has been made for former girlfriend Marcia Griffin, who told investigators she shared cocaine with Barry.

Lewis suffered the greatest consequences for his initial stonewalling. After initially lying to a grand jury here, he found himself the target of a separate undercover drug operation in the Virgin Islands. Arrested there on drug distribution charges in March 1989, investigators sought once again to obtain Lewis's cooperation. Lewis, however, persisted in his denial that he or Barry used drugs at the Ramada. Prosecutors brought more cocaine charges against him here.

Finally, after Lewis was convicted in the Virgin Islands in April 1989, prosecutors gained the leverage they needed over Lewis: the ability to offer him a lighter sentence for his cooperation.

Lewis's attorney, Mark L. Shaffer, said Lewis came to Washington in May 1989 to face the charges here, and was ready to cooperate. But it took three months to reach an agreement with the government, Shaffer said, in part because Lewis clung to the hope of implicating Barry but not his longtime friends.

Shaffer said Lewis eventually realized that he had to tell everything he knew. The Virgin Islands conviction was a shock to Lewis's system, Lewis testified: a "wake-up call."