WASHINGTON – The Metro transit agency paid former Mayor Marion Barry more than $3,200 after he claimed his car was damaged by one of its buses, even though officials could not verify the claim.
According to records obtained by The Washington Post in response to a public information request, Barry was sent a check last August for more than $3,200.
The repairs cost him nearly $1,000 less than that, but Barry said he has no plans to return the difference.
Barry said the passenger side of his car was sideswiped by a B2 route bus last June. There were no witnesses and no damage was found on the bus. The bus driver denied having hit a vehicle.
Barry did not file a police report and waited a month to tell Metro about the incident, according to agency records. Although a Metro official advised against paying the claim, General Manager John Catoe approved it.
"We couldn't prove it one way or the other," Catoe said. "The reality is, he's a member of the board of directors.
"In my judgment, I did not feel that he would have lied about such a small claim," Catoe said. "I believed he was truthful, and I made the decision to pay him."
In the letter that accompanied the check, Metro said it had been unable to confirm Barry's account.
"Nevertheless, in recognition of your public position and your commitment to the public interest, (Metro) has determined that it is appropriate to accept your demand for full settlement," the letter said.
Barry says he did not request special treatment and resents the suggestion of special treatment.
Barry, 72, served as mayor for four terms. In 1990, he was caught on videotape smoking crack at a downtown hotel in an FBI sting. He was elected to the D.C. Council in 1992 after serving six months in prison.
For three years, he has served as an alternate on the Metro board. He has the worst attendance record of the 12 members, having attended nine of 165 Metro committee and board meetings.