WASHINGTON – District of Columbia Councilman and former Mayor Marion Barry is not talking about reports that he failed a court-ordered drug test in November, but his attorney took issue Wednesday with parts of what was reported.
The Washington Post reported in Wednesday's editions that Barry, 69, tested positive for cocaine following an Oct. 28 guilty plea to misdemeanor tax charges. The paper also reported that Barry's attorney encouraged him to undergo drug treatment before his Feb. 8 sentencing.
"I have made no contact with the court about this issue," said Frederick D. Cooke Jr., who is representing the former four-term mayor in the tax case. He denied taking any actions to prevent Barry from being jailed for violating the terms of his pre-sentence release.
Cooke said he would "address any of these issues to the extent they need to be addressed in court" next month.
In 1991, Barry served six months in jail for a cocaine possession conviction. The previous year, he was videotaped during an FBI sting operation smoking crack cocaine in a downtown hotel room.
Councilman Jack Evans said Wednesday that cocaine addiction is a disease that many people struggle to overcome. "He needs support and he needs help," Evans said.
"I can only hope and pray that Councilmember Barry is in recovery and getting treatment and getting the help that he needs to deal with this issue once and for all," said Councilman Jim Graham.
In October, Barry pleaded guilty to a charge of failure to file his 2000 tax return and one charge of failure to provide information. Court records indicated Barry had not filed federal or city tax returns for six years.
Barry was put on probation under the condition that he be tested for drugs. If he violated the terms of his probation, he could be sentenced to as much as 18 months in jail.
Under provisions in the city charter, the misdemeanor charges would not make Barry ineligible to vote in the district, allowing him to keep his council seat even if he is sentenced to jail.
Barry reported Jan. 2 that he was robbed at gunpoint in the kitchen of his Southeast Washington apartment. He told police that two young men who had helped him carry his groceries in from his car returned a short time later and took his wallet, cash and credit cards.
Barry was in Howard University Hospital on Wednesday, undergoing treatment for high blood pressure. A prostate cancer survivor, Barry has suffered from diabetes in recent years.