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Obama Mourns Marion Barry, Says Former D.C. Mayor 'Earned the Love and Respect of Countless Washingtonians

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"Through a storied, at times tumultuous life and career..."

HENDERSON, Nev. (TheBlaze/AP) — President Barack Obama expressed his sadness over the death of former District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry, saying he "earned the love and respect of countless Washingtonians."

The 78-year-old Barry died Sunday. No cause of death was given.

"Through a storied, at times tumultuous life and career, he earned the love and respect of countless Washingtonians," Obama said according to Talking Points Memo, "and Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathies to Marion's family, friends and constituents today."

Marion Barry, former mayor of Washington, D.C., speaks at a news conference about his recent arrest in Washington, DC. Barry, who staged a comeback after a 1990 crack cocaine arrest, died early Sunday morning Nov. 23, 2014. He was 78. (AP Photo/Stephen J Boitano, File) Marion Barry, former mayor of Washington, D.C., speaks at a 2009 news conference about his recent arrest in Washington, D.C. Barry, who staged a comeback after a 1990 crack cocaine arrest, died early Sunday morning Nov. 23, 2014. He was 78. (Image source: AP/Stephen J Boitano, File)

More from the Associated Press:

Barry gained international notoriety in 1990 when he was videotaped in an FBI sting smoking crack in a downtown Washington hotel room with a female friend. He was convicted of a single count of drug possession — jurors had deadlocked on most counts — and sentenced to six months in prison.

Despite the embarrassment, Barry’s political career was far from over. In 1992, he made it back to city government, winning a council seat representing the poorest of the city’s eight wards. That victory helped propel him to a fourth, and final, term as mayor in 1994. [...]

Several times since his 1990 arrest, Barry had sought treatment or counseling for problems with prescription medications or other substances. In 2002, he sought an at-large seat on the D.C. Council but abandoned his bid amid allegations of renewed illegal drug use.

In 2006, Barry was given three years of probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges for failing to file tax returns from 1999 to 2004. As part of a plea bargain, he agreed to file future federal and local tax returns annually, a promise prosecutors later said he had failed to keep.

In 2010, he was censured by the council and stripped of his committee assignments for steering a government contract to a former girlfriend. The council levied a similar punishment in 2013 after he admitted accepting cash gifts from city contractors.

Still Obama lauded Barry for advancing the cause of civil rights as a one-time leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Obama also made note of the many programs Barry put in place during decades in elected office in the nation's capital to help city residents escape poverty, expand opportunity and return "home rule" to the city.

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