City Desk

It Pays To Be Marion Barry’s NA Sponsor

Maroin BarryIt's hard to get very far in a 12-step program without embracing Step 2: asking for help from a greater power.

When it came to his finances, Darryl Colbert knew which greater power he could turn to–his Narcotics Anonymous buddy Marion S.  Barry Jr.

Colbert is a longtime addiction counselor and had served as Barry's sponsor since the early 1990s. That line of work doesn't pay too well, to the point that Colbert was in deep financial trouble as far back as 2007, according to the Bennett report.

Soon Colbert received a $12,000 consulting contract from one of the Barry-controlled nonprofits—Clean and Sober Inc. Colbert was paid a total of $13,500 for his work with Clean and Sober Inc. along with another $2,966 for his work in a second Barry nonprofit, the Ward 8 Youth Leadership Council.

Colbert told City Paper this past summer that he had been hired at the behest of Barry. Colbert's cut of the funds was slated to come at the expense of another employee's salary.

Colbert also received $3,600 from the Ward 8 Constituent Services Fund in 2007 and 2008.

In August 2009, after he became a consultant for Clean and Sober and when the funds were being held by a grant monitor, Colbert e-mailed Project Director Tanya Blue demanding his money, according to the Bennett report.

"I have a lot riding on this check!" he wrote Blue on Aug. 1.

Two days later, he wrote her again: "Ha[ve] u heard about our money?"

And finally, on Aug. 10: "I need someone to tell me about the money I NEED to PAY my MORTAGE [sic] NOW."

Blue's sole connection to the nonprofit gravy train could be summed up in the first sentence of the Bennett report's section on her activities: She was a close personal friend of Barry staffer Brenda Richardson.

Blue received $21,000 from four of the nonprofits. Bennett's report states that "Blue had no particular experience in addiction prevention or counseling." For her work with Clean and Sober Inc., Blue was paid $7,123.  Her job was to coordinate with Colbert on different tasks.

Blue said that Colbert "did very little work and submitted such brief reports that she did not include them in the monthly reports submitted to the fiscal agent."

The Bennett report concluded that Blue was overpaid for her services. Three of the nonprofits paid Blue $6,300 in total for developing annual reports that were little more than "one page tri-folds." The Ward 8 Health Council paid Blue $2,000 for a health guide that was never completed.

*file photo by Darrow Montgomery.

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  • Rick Mangus

    Marion Barry is about as clean and sober as George W. Bush was the best President the United States ever had!

    By the way remember the time Barry got riped-off by two thugs, who as Barry said, "were helping me bring in my groceries from the car", RIGHT! Then after the police arrested these guys Barry would not press charges, I wonder why!

    Also if any newspaper or anyone wants to see the councilman, all they would have to do is go to the 1400 Blk. of R street, NW, a high drug area. Oh! is that Ward 8, no my mistake it's Ward 2!

  • noodlez




  • Jennifer Precious Finch

    Why am I suppose to care about this?

  • proballdc

    Jennifer, I am with you. My question is does the same principal apply to public officials who steer millions in contracts to unqualified companies owned by fraternity brothers then take a kickback out of those dollars on the back end (maybe even literally)?

  • Charlie

    Sounds like a criminal conspiracy to me. Is RICO still constitutional?

  • Anita

    If you apply RICO to Fenty and the DC Council, there will be more than a few seats up for election in September...

  • proballdc

    Amen, Anita!!! Not to mention Capital Hill. But this investigation does open pandora's box and depending on where it goes, sets a legal precedent on how corrupt politicians land. If it is to be applied to Barry, then certainly it should be applied to AMF.

  • downtown rez

    proballdc you'd have to demonstrate the contracts were a) steered to b) unqualified companies and c) that there were kickbacks.
    Because, you know, none of that has been demonstrated.

  • whatever

    Since when are non-profit organizations subject to public scrutiny? So Marion Barry runs a non-profit in an unethical way?
    And by the way Jason Cherkis, Darryl Colbert being in NA has nothing to do with this story.
    You are a jackass making that your lead. You obviously have a drug problem yourself:(