City Desk

Feds: Barry Stopped Paying D.C. Back Taxes in July

UPDATE, 3:35 P.M.: Nickles will pursue garnishment of wages—details at bottom of post.

Federal prosecutors this afternoon filed court documents saying not only did Marion Barry not file his federal tax return, but that he failed for seven months to repay back taxes owed the very government he's been elected to serve.

The revelations come in a memorandum [PDF] submitted ahead of a April 2 hearing before federal magistrate Deborah A. Robinson on prosecutors' motion to revoke Barry's probation.

After Barry pleaded guilty to tax violations in 2006, the IRS began garnishing $1,350 from his biweekly paychecks the following November, the filing says. But, according to sources consulted by LL, the District government chose not to garnish his wages but negotiate a modest monthly payment plan with Barry. According to the filing, Barry hasn't paid stopped paying the District government last July, and "it was only after motions by the government and the Probation Office [in February] that he renewed his repayment schedule" with the District.

Another notable item: When it came out earlier this year that Barry hadn't filed his 2007 return, it had been postulated that he may well be owed a refund. Well, according to the court filings, Barry in fact owed $6,512 in unpaid federal taxes and an undisclosed amount in District taxes for 2007.

In total, according to a IRS affidavit, Barry owed the feds $277,688 in back taxes, penalties, and interest as of Jan. 8.

Barry's lawyer, Fred Cooke, did not immediately return a phone call, but he is likely to argue next week that his client's kidney disease is the reason for any delinquency. Prosecutor Thomas Zeno, unsurprisingly, doesn't buy it: "Given the many activities in which the defendant engaged instead of filing his tax returns, it was not beyond his power to file his tax returns on time."

Zeno again asks that Barry be jailed: "During his probation, the defendant continually flouted the standards applicable to all persons who reside in the District of Columbia, who work for a living, and who pay a portion of their income to support his salary. In addition, 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 defendant has proven his unworthiness to reap the benefits of probation. The defendant’s probation should be revoked. He should be sentenced to some period of incarceration, such as weekends or community confinement. In the alternative, a two-year extension of his probation should be imposed."

UPDATE, 3:35 P.M.: Attorney General Peter Nickles says he's "very concerned that the councilmember has not met the commitment he made to the District."

Nickles says he is planning to pursue garnishing Barry's wages in order to pay down what he owes the District. Barry was required to pay $350 per month under his original 2006 arrangement with the Office of Tax and Revenue, Nickles says.

As for the total Barry owes the District, Nickles said that information remains under seal. But, he says, "It's significant."

UPDATE, 4 P.M.: LL changed the headline and other passages to reflect that the filing indicates that Barry renegotiated his payments to the District after prosecutors pressed him in February and is ostensibly again paying what he owes.

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