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Witness Describes Barry During Alleged Crack-Smoking Spree

June 22, 1990

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A city lawyer who has pleaded guilty to drug charges testified today that he found Mayor Marion Barry slumped on a bathroom toilet seat during an alleged crack-smoking spree with another man.

James McWilliams, a lawyer for the Department of Public Works, also testified at Barry’s trial on drug and perjury charges that he lied to police shortly after the incident to protect Barry from a drug investigation.

McWilliams testified that he went to the hotel room of Charles Lewis, who is a convicted drug dealer, on Dec. 19, 1988, to talk to the mayor about a job transfer.

When McWilliams got there, Lewis asked him for $40 and ″I understood he was going to go out and get some drugs″ with the money, said McWilliams. Lewis came back with a ″baggy ... that had a white substance inside,″ he testified.

Barry arrived at the hotel room, the mayor and Lewis went into the bathroom repeatedly and smoke emanated from the bathroom, said McWilliams. The lawyer said he sat on the bed watching Monday Night Football and drinking cognac.

″The smoke and the ... smell ... got stronger as the evening went on,″ said McWilliams. The witness did not say that he actually saw Barry using drugs.

Did McWilliams mention his request for a new job assignment? asked assistant U.S. attorney Richard Roberts.

″Several times,″ said McWilliams. ″I didn’t think I was getting through. ... He was sitting on the commode with all his clothes on and he was just slumped over a little bit,″ said McWilliams. ″I kept making my pitch about the job.″

″He looked up and said, ‘you know, you look a lot like Santa Claus’,″ testified McWilliams, who has a beard.

Lewis testified at Barry’s U.S. District Court trial that he and Barry smoked crack cocaine that night during the televised Monday Night Football game.

When police launched an investigation after Barry’s visits to Lewis’ hotel room, McWilliams said, he lied to authorities by denying that he had seen any narcotics in Lewis’ room.

Why didn’t McWilliams tell the truth? asked Roberts.

″I didn’t tell the truth because I was protecting Marion Barry,″ said McWilliams.

McWilliams said Barry was ″someone who I respected″ and that the mayor’s ″services to the city and civil rights were something I considered important.″

″I didn’t want to be the one causing any problems,″ said McWilliams, a former assistant attorney general in the Virgin Islands.

In January, McWilliams pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting Lewis’ possession of cocaine. He is now cooperating with prosecutors.

On Thursday, Barry’s lawyer maintained that Lewis is a liar who fabricated allegations that the mayor smoked crack cocaine.

The defense attorney, R. Kenneth Mundy, said Lewis gave conflicting testimony about Barry’s supposed drug use to keep himself out of prison.

″You care for Charles Lewis,″ Mundy told Lewis at the end of two days of cross-examination in U.S. District Court.

″You care for yourself first,″ Lewis agreed.

″That’s exactly it,″ Mundy shot back. Lewis faces sentencing in a drug case in his native Virgin Islands and the Justice Department is holding back a recommendation of leniency until his role as a cooperating witness is finished, Mundy said.

Lewis lied in January 1989 when he denied any involvement with drugs, Mundy said, and began lying in August 1989 when he started to implicate Barry.

″If you would lie in January 1989 ... you would lie in August 1989 to the present,″ the defense lawyer suggested.

″No,″ Lewis said.

Police found traces of cocaine on a table and night stand in Lewis’ room shortly after he checked out of the hotel, according to a document introduced as evidence at the trial by prosecutors. Defense attorneys stipulated to the accuracy of the document.

Barry, who is completing his third term as mayor of the nation’s capital, is being tried on three felony counts of perjury, one misdemeanor count of conspiracy and nine counts of cocaine possession.

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