- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2000

Marlena Ramallo Cooke, the flamboyant widow of the late Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke, will trade in her silk and pearls for prison orange over the next two weekends.

"We need to get her attention," District of Columbia Superior Court Judge William M. Jackson said Thursday when ordering the tearful Cooke to spend seven days in the D.C. Jail as punishment for her driving under the influence conviction.

The jail is just blocks from RFK Stadium, where she and her late husband held court at Washington Redskins football games for years.

"I'm concerned whether or not a sentence of this court can impress upon Cooke to not drink and drive," the judge said from the bench.

Judge Jackson's order requires Cooke to report to the D.C. Jail to spend the seven days beginning at 6 p.m. Friday.

Cooke tearfully told the judge before he handed down his sentence that she was arrested and convicted only "because of who I was married to."

"I never drink and drive," she said. "I drink occasionally. This is very hard to comprehend. What have I done to the D.C. police to do this to me?"

Judge Jackson said her denial plus her bad traffic record were reasons why he gave her jail time. Her actual sentence is 180 days in jail with all but seven days suspended, nine months' probation, 180 hours of community service and suspension of her driver's license for a year.

John Perazich, Cooke's attorney, said he will appeal the conviction although Judge Jackson would not issue a stay on his order until the appeal is heard. The judge also would not allow Cooke to spend the time at the Alexandria, Va., jail near her home.

Cooke was pulled over in November by a U.S. Park Police officer who said he spotted her driving along a Northwest street without her lights on. She then flunked sobriety tests.

The defense argued that she had had just a tiny bit of wine, and that she was a victim of her own celebrity. Seven police cars turned out for what Cooke's attorney called a routine traffic stop.

Mr. Perazich, while arguing for leniency, said none of Cooke's multiple speeding tickets, including one after her 1998 driving while under the influence charge, resulted in injury to anyone. But Assistant Corporation Counsel Janice Sheppherd, who wanted Cooke jailed for 30 days, said Cooke is lucky.

"It is only a miracle someone has not been injured," she said.

Cooke's jury conviction stemmed from a Nov. 5, 1998, traffic stop by U.S. Park Police Officer Jeffrey Muller in the 1200 block of 23rd Street NW because she was driving her Range Rover without her headlights on. She was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and given a citation because her blood-alcohol level was between .05 percent and .10 percent.

In September 1993, she was arrested after police saw her driving down a Georgetown street with a man riding on the hood of her Jaguar XJS. In June 1994, she was charged after striking an off-duty police officer's motorcycle outside a trendy Northwest nightclub and pleaded guilty to reckless driving and place on supervised probation.

Cooke's conviction and sentence will not have an impact on her battle with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which has tried since 1986 to deport her to her native Bolivia, said her immigration lawyer Michael Maggio. The INS is attempting to deport her for a guilty plea to conspiracy to import cocaine, for which she served 5 and 1/2 months in prison.

Her attorneys have said deportation would endanger her life at the hands of vengeful Bolivian drug dealers.

Mr. Maggio said Judge Jackson was thoughtful in his sentence because the INS could have had her arrested and jailed immediately if she were sentenced to even a year's probation.

"As crazy as it sounds, if she was sentenced to a year … she must be detained," said Mr. Maggio.

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