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Marlene Cooke Arrested

Redskins Owner's Wife Faces DUI Charge

By Serge F. Kovaleski and Brian Mooar
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 16, 1993; Page A01

Marlene Chalmers Cooke, the wife of Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke, was arrested early yesterday on a drunken driving charge after she was seen hurtling down M Street NW in Georgetown with a man clinging to the hood of her Jaguar convertible and pounding the windshield, police said.

The wild ride occurred about 12:55 a.m., continued for several blocks and came to an abrupt halt in the 3200 block of M Steeet NW, where Cooke and the man, identified by police as Patrick F. Wermer, 26, were arrested. At one point, according to a police source, Cooke threw her gold pumps at a police officer, striking him in the face, after he suggested she remove her shoes for better balance during a sobriety test.

Cooke, whose driver's license puts her age at 37, was charged with driving under the influence and reckless driving, police said, and released two hours later pending a Nov. 3 court appearance. Wermer was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly trying to interfere with officers when they arrested Cooke. He was released after paying a $25 fine.

Clad in a short, low-cut dress with gold chain straps, a flustered Cooke was escorted out of Traffic Division headquarters by two officers who shielded her from the crush of news cameras and whisked her into a taxi.

Sources who know Cooke said she and Wermer have been seen together regularly at Georgetown nightspots and at the Watergate at Landmark apartments in Alexandria, where she lived before marrying the Redskins owner. She is his fourth wife. The police report on Wermer's arrest listed his residence at the same address as the Watergate at Landmark complex, though he also is listed in directory information as living at the Executive Apartments in Arlington.

Police officers said Cooke told them that Wermer is her nephew. She later told reporters that the two of them were returning from a baby shower. Cooke and Wermer could not be reached for comment yesterday. Jack Kent Cooke declined to comment on the arrests.

Yesterday's incident is the latest in a series of legal problems and bizarre incidents involving the Bolivian-born Marlene Cooke, who married her wealthy, 80-year-old husband in 1990.

She is fighting deportation efforts by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service because of her 1986 guilty plea to a charge of conspiracy to import cocaine. Her marriage to a U.S. citizen does not automatically make her a citizen or protect her from deportation.

In May of last year, Cooke, who has a home in the District, took his wife to George Washington University Hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound to a finger. The couple said Marlene Cooke discovered a gun and inadvertently shot herself while exploring an antique chest that had been brought from the Cookes' farm in Middleburg, Va.

Several people told D.C. police, however, that while Jack Kent Cooke was standing near them in the hospital emergency room, he said his wife had been wounded accidently as she tried to get the gun away from her two sons. Jack Kent Cooke has called those accounts "preposterous."

Cooke in recent months has been finalizing plans to build a new stadium for the Redskins next to Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, the team's current home.

Police said Marlene Cooke was arrested after an officer in a patrol car saw her driving her dark green, late model Jaguar west on M Street, with Wermer lying on the hood, beating the windshield and begging her to drive him home.

Wermer rolled off the car in the 3200 block of M Street and Cooke continued west on M Street with a police cruiser in pursuit, police said. She made a U-turn and returned to the 3200 block, where her car was stopped. It was then that Wermer became disorderly and was arrested.

After Cooke refused to take a Breathalyzer test, police said, she was given a motor skills test and then placed under arrest. Within minutes, anonymous tips about the incident were telephoned to The Washington Post and other media.

"This is ridiculous, I didn't do anything," Cooke said as she left Traffic Division headquarters early yesterday, holding an oversize purse in one hand and a cellular phone in the other. "I was just driving and some drunk started pounding on my car. I didn't commit any crime. I didn't kill anyone."

Among the many witnesses to the incident, a police source said, were four off-duty members of the Secret Service who had been unwinding in a Georgetown bar after duty guarding dignitaries during the Israeli-PLO peace accord signing.

Marlene Cooke ate dinner Tuesday night at Cafe Milano, an Italian restaurant in Georgetown. Ciro Costanzo, the restaurant's general manager, said she ate dinner with two other women and two men and left between 11:30 and midnight. Jack Kent Cooke was not with them. "When she left here, she was perfectly fine," Costanzo said.

A neighbor at the Watergate at Landmark, who asked not to be identified, said Cooke and Wermer have been seen together regularly at the Alexandria apartment complex, arriving and leaving together, and lounging at the pool. A Georgetown bartender said the two have been together in his establishment on numerous occasions.

The neighbor said Wermer had lived in or visited Marlene Cooke's apartment for the last six years, but that "he's been gone the last few months." The neighbor said Wermer drove a black Ford Taurus purchased by Marlene Cooke. A salesman at Landmark Honda said Cooke bought a used 1987 black Taurus two summers ago, paying with a check.

A close friend of the Cookes, who also asked not to be identified, said they have been going through tough times lately. "They are together, but they've had their squabbles," the friend said. They were together in Cooke's box at Sunday's Redskins game and lunched together yesterday at Duke Zeibert's.

There is some confusion over Marlene Cooke's age. Her driver's license says she is 37 years old, though news accounts at the time of her marriage three years ago to Cooke said she was 37 then. Her marriage license says she was born Dec. 23, 1955.

Asked how old Marlene Cooke is, Suzanne Martin Cooke, Cooke's third wife and a onetime friend of Marlene's, said, "That's the million-dollar question." The current Mrs. Cooke, according to the former Mrs. Cooke, is about 43.

Staff writers Lorraine Adams, Steve Bates, Judy Mann and Michael York contributed to this report.

©Copyright The Washington Post Company

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