- The Washington Times - Friday, February 20, 2009

UPDATED:

Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, now 72 and beset by health problems as prosecutors are seeking to jail him on accusations of failing to file his 2007 tax returns, was admitted to a hospital Thursday to prepare for a kidney transplant.

Mr. Barry, a Democrat who represents Ward 8 on the D.C. Council, went into Howard University Hospital ahead of a planned Friday afternoon transplant, university spokesman Ron Harris said. Mr. Barry has said he was undergoing kidney dialysis in preparation for the transplant.

Bernadette Tolson, Mr. Barry’s chief of staff, said he was in good spirits and more optimistic than some of his supporters.

“I think people are just worried and concerned, but he is not,” Miss Tolson said. “He says, ‘I’ve got an outstanding physician who’s world-renowned.’ ”

Mr. Harris noted that the six-hour transplant procedure has a 95 percent success rate.

Dr. Clive O. Callender, chairman of the Howard University Hospital surgery department and founder of the National Minority Organ Tissue Transplant Education Program, will perform the surgery using a kidney from a female donor located by the former mayor, aides said.

Mr. Barry is undergoing the procedure as prosecutors are seeking to have him jailed for failing to file his 2007 federal and local tax returns - saying that was the eighth time in nine years that the former mayor failed to file returns.

He was given three years of probation in 2006 after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges for failing to file his tax returns from 1999 to 2004. The latest episode was revealed when federal prosecutors asked a judge last week to revoke Mr. Barry’s probation for failing to file his 2007 tax returns.

“It is not acceptable for any citizen to shirk a basic civil duty, let alone a former mayor and a current city councilman,” the prosecutors’ motion stated.

Mr. Barry has said his health problems distracted him from filing his taxes but added there was no excuse. His attorney Fred Cooke told WTOP Radio on Wednesday that his client had filed his 2007 returns.

The kidney problems are the result of diabetes and hypertension that Mr. Barry has suffered for more than 20 years, his spokeswoman Natalie Williams said.

She noted that the ex-mayor has been on dialysis for the past 12 weeks and that a donor, whom she declined to identify, was a longtime Barry friend who “turned out to be a perfect match.”

Miss Tolson said legal troubles have added to the stress on the former mayor ahead of surgery.

Mr. Barry served four terms as mayor through the 1980s. In 1990, during his third term, he was videotaped in a hotel room smoking crack cocaine in an FBI sting. He served a six-month prison sentence for a misdemeanor cocaine possession conviction and was re-elected mayor in 1994 - his fourth and final term. He consistently denied using drugs.

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