On January 18, 1990, former Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry was arrested in an FBI sting after being caught on video smoking crack with a woman in a hotel room.
Barry’s former girlfriend Hazel Diane “Rasheeda” Moore was actually an FBI informant, and insisted that he smoke freebase cocaine before they had sex, while agents in another room watched on camera.
During the arrest Barry can be heard saying: “Bitch set me up … I shouldn’t have come up here … goddamn bitch.”
Barry was charged with three felony counts of perjury, 10 counts of drug possession, and one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to possess cocaine.
But the criminal trial ended in August 1990 with a conviction for only one misdemeanor cocaine-possession incident, which had occurred in November 1989.
Mayor Barry was sentenced to six months in prison shortly before the November election. Though Barry did not seek re-election, he continued to serve as mayor throughout his arrest and trial.
Mississippi-born Barry’s public and private lives were filled with highs and lows. He was a civil-rights activist with huge promise, but despite his huge achievements in politics, Barry struggled with alcohol and drug addiction, infidelities, and scandal involving unpaid taxes.
He was married and divorced three times, and was separated from his fourth wife, Cora Masters Barry, at the time of his death, though the two remained close friends.
While serving his sentence, Barry was accused of letting a woman perform oral sex on him in a prison waiting room, a charge he denied. He was released in 1992, and actually went on to stage a political comeback by winning a fourth term in office in 1994.
After leaving the mayor’s office in 1999, Barry worked as an investment banker. In 2004, he went back into politics and was elected to the District of Columbia Council for Ward 8, a district he represented until his death.
Barry died in 2014. The medical examiner’s office reported the cause of death was heart problems because of high blood pressure. He was 78.
A few months before his passing, Barry released his autobiography, “Mayor for Life: The Incredible Story of Marion Barry Jr.”
Main photo: Marion Barry [Wikimedia Commons]