Barry Could Stay Councilman Despite Possible Charges

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If alleged tax problems of Marion Barry (search) lead to criminal charges, he could still continue serving as a city councilman.

Barry, 69, is reportedly negotiating with federal prosecutors to resolve allegations he failed to file tax returns over the past seven years. Failure to file is potentially a lesser misdemeanor offense. And city officials said Thursday that unless the former four term mayor draws felony prison time, he would still be eligible to keep the Ward 8 council seat he won last November.

"He would still be a qualified elector," said Charlotte Brookins-Hudson (search), general counsel to the District of Columbia Council. She cited provisions in the city charter requiring the city's elected officials to be eligible voters. Provisions of the district's election code allow convicted felons to renew their voter registrations upon their release from prison.

Barry served a six-month prison sentence in 1991, stemming from an FBI sting operation in which he was videotaped in a downtown hotel room smoking crack cocaine. He was elected to the council in 1992, six months after his release. Voters returned him to the mayor's office in 1994 for his fourth and final term.

After leaving office in 1999, Barry worked sporadically as a municipal bond consultant for a New York-based brokerage firm. He successfully ran for his old council seat last year.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said Thursday that no court developments were eminent. Federal prosecutors have declined to discuss allegations against Barry because he has not been charged with a crime.