Charles Lewis, who has played a pivotal role in the perjury and cocaine case against D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, walked out of the Alexandria Detention Center yesterday a free man after serving 13 months for conspiring to distribute and possess cocaine.
"I am very happy -- very, very happy," said Lewis, who appeared fit and healthy in a new gray warm-up suit.
Lewis, 50, declined to comment about the Barry case, but paused to talk about his experiences in jail and his plans as he was escorted by FBI agents to a waiting car.
Although Lewis is free to return to his family home in the Virgin Islands, he is under a prosecution subpoena to appear at the Barry trial, and will be housed in an area hotel with several other witnesses.
Lewis said of his plans, "I'm going to pick up where I left off. I'll be putting together some real estate development projects." One of Lewis's brothers, Cedric Lewis, is a developer in St. Thomas, and Lewis said he will work with him.
Lewis said he has renewed his faith in God while in prison, and he said he has completed a Bible study course and has taught classes for fellow prisoners.
Lewis grew up in a devout Roman Catholic family, the son of a prominent Virgin Islands cabinet member.
Stanley Farrelly, brother of Virgin Islands Gov. Alexander Farrelly and a longtime friend of the Lewis family, said that for Charles Lewis and his brothers and sisters, attending church was a major undertaking.
Each Sunday, Farrelly said, the Lewis family would walk six miles along mountainous roads from their home on the western tip of the island to a church in downtown Charlotte Amalie.
Lewis and Barry were the central figures in the Ramada Inn episode of Dec. 22, 1988, when Barry visited Lewis at his room in the hotel. At the time, two D.C. police detectives were on their way to the room to attempt an undercover drug purchase from Lewis.
The officers learned that Barry was in the room and the purchase never took place, but the incident became national news and triggered a federal grand jury investigation that produced the current case against Barry.
Lewis has been convicted twice on drug offenses, once in the Virgin Islands and once here. Lewis is still awaiting sentencing on the Virgin Islands conviction, and prosecutors here have agreed to argue on his behalf there in return for his cooperation.
Asked if he were eager to get home, he said, "Oh for sure, I can't wait."