WASHINGTON – Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to send District of Columbia Council member Marion Barry to jail, alleging that the former mayor hasn't filed his tax returns on time for a seventh year in a row.
In a court document filed Wednesday, prosecutors wrote that Barry, who was given probation instead of incarceration last year in a criminal tax case, "has not acted like a person who has been given the opportunity of probation and should not be treated like one."
Barry pleaded guilty in 2005 to misdemeanor charges for failing to file tax returns covering 1999 to 2004. As part of his plea bargain, Barry agreed to file future federal and local tax returns annually. Prosecutors now charge that Barry missed deadlines for filing federal and D.C. tax returns for 2005.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys James W. Cooper and Thomas E. Zeno argued that Barry should be incarcerated as a way of "making clear to this defendant that he is not above the law."
Barry, 71, responded to the court filing Thursday in a television interview.
"They're trying to harass me and embarrass me, and they ought to stop it," Barry told WUSA-TV. "I have met every condition of my probation."
Barry said he has been drug free throughout his probation and has submitted to numerous drug tests.
"I'm perplexed by all this. I don't understand it," he said. "They can't get me on any other activities because I'm not doing anything."
In a legal memo to U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson, prosecutors wrote that they "take no joy" in asking for Barry to serve a jail sentence. They noted his public service as a civil rights activist and his four terms as D.C. mayor.
"He is a man of substance and talent, and he should have used these gifts to avoid these latest violations of federal and local laws," the prosecution's memo states.
No new charges have been filed against Barry, but prosecutors said he committed two new crimes by missing the deadline for his 2005 taxes while he was on probation.
The memo marks the first time the U.S. attorney's office has called for jail time for Barry in the case. It comes a month after prosecutors first sought to revoke Barry's probation.
If a judge grants the prosecution's request, it would not be Barry's first time in prison. During his third term as mayor, after he was famously videotaped smoking crack in a 1990 FBI sting operation, Barry served six months in prison.
No date has been set for a hearing in this case.
Barry earned nearly $93,000 as a council member in 2005 but filed neither return on time, prosecutors said. The IRS gave him an extension until Oct. 15, after he asked for more time, but he didn't meet that deadline either, authorities said. Barry filed the 2005 returns last month after prosecutors asked for his probation to be revoked.