Friday, March 27, 2009

Federal authorities say D.C. Council member Marion Barry failed to pay more than $277,000 in back taxes and are continuing to ask that the former mayor’s probation be revoked, according to court documents.

In a six-page memorandum filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Zeno said Mr. Barry has “continually flouted the standards applicable to all persons who reside in the District of Columbia” and failed to file his 2007 federal tax return until Feb. 17, but still owed unpaid taxes even then.

The documents say Mr. Barry had not made a tax payment to the District between July 3 and Feb. 8, despite having time to take a vacation in Jamaica and run for re-election as the council’s Ward 8 Democratic representative.

“There is no excuse for the defendant’s failure to make payments to the District of Columbia because, during this six-month period, the defendant nevertheless had enough time and money, for instance, to take a six-day vacation in Jamaica in Sept. 2008 as well as to run for re-election as a council member,” the documents state.

Mr. Barry was sentenced to three years’ probation in 2006 after pleading guilty to not filing his taxes from 1999 to 2004.

Prosecutors in 2007 unsuccessfully tried to have Mr. Barry’s probation revoked after he failed to file his 2005 taxes on time, and in February sought to send him to jail for being late with his 2007 tax returns - the eighth time in nine years that he failed to file on time, they said.

An affidavit in the case says Mr. Barry owed $277,688.05 in unpaid taxes, penalties and interest as of Jan. 8. It also states that when Mr. Barry filed his 2007 tax return Feb.17, the council member said he still owed $6,512.

Defense attorney, Fred Cooke, declined to comment Thursday.

Mr. Barry, 73, is due in court Thursday and has said health issues prevented him from filing his returns: The former four-term mayor received a kidney transplant Feb. 20 and has had a 20-year history of kidney problems because of diabetes and hypertension.

But prosecutors called Mr. Barry’s claim that he was distracted by his illness “thoroughly unconvincing.”

“The defendant has wasted the time of this court, the probation office and the government by his recalcitrance to file the tax returns required of every citizen,” the memorandum states. “The defendant’s probation should be revoked.”

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