Washington Mayor Marion Barry Smoking Crack
Washington Mayor Marion Barry Jr. had a dramatic rise and fall, and rise again. In the 1970s, he was a celebrated Civil Rights activist, District of Columbia school board member and city councilmember who even took a bullet while trying to defend a city building during a hostage crisis. He became mayor in 1978 and served three consecutive terms.
There were rumors of his drug use in the 1980s, but Barry's fall from grace came in 1990 when he was caught using crack cocaine on videotape. And it was no accident. In a sting operation that was part of a corruption probe, the FBI, in conjunction with Washington, D.C. police, had Barry's former girlfriend Hazel Diane (aka Rasheeda) Moore lure him to a room at the Vista Hotel on Jan. 18, 1990. Barry met Moore and an undercover FBI agent posing as a friend of hers. The FBI taped the encounter via hidden video cameras and audio recorders. On the videotape, Barry broached the subject of sex, which Moore declined, and then drugs, although he did it without referring to drugs directly. Barry said he didn't have any and asked if she did. The undercover agent provided crack to Moore, who gave it to Barry. Moore declined to use it, and Barry smoked it in a crack pipe and then suggested they go downstairs.
As he was calling his security guards, who were downstairs, FBI agents burst into the room to arrest him. Barry said that Moore set him up, in less than polite words, while the FBI was trying to Mirandize him. He asked what the charges were, and he was told cocaine possession.
During the trial, Ms. Moore stated that she underwent a religious conversion before the bust and that she was worried about Mayor Barry's health. Barry was convicted of only one of 14 charges, misdemeanor cocaine possession -- although not the one stemming from the sting operation, but rather a charge based on testimony from another witness, Doris Crenshaw, that he used cocaine with her in 1989. Barry was acquitted of an earlier possession charge. The other 12 charges, including multiple possession charges, one conspiracy to possess and one perjury charge, resulted in a hung jury and a mistrial. For the charge that stuck, he was sentenced to six months in prison.
Despite the scandal, Marion Barry rose to prominence again, winning back his city council seat in 1992. In 1994, he was reelected as mayor. All in all, he served four terms as D.C. mayor, and before, after and in between served as D.C. councilmember, a seat that he still holds as of summer 2013.