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Barry Friend Played It Cool in Luring Him to His Arrest

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Depressed by a life gone sour and increasingly hemmed in by authorities on both coasts, Rasheeda Moore played it cool to the very end--just as they taught her at the suburban Virginia finishing school where she had been a star pupil.

The Cappa Chell Model Agency and Finishing School taught her to keep her poise and follow instructions. And the tall, attractive Moore did both last week as she lured District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry to a room in the Vista International Hotel, where she greeted him warmly as law enforcement officials lurked in adjacent rooms.

Barry, who had a longstanding relationship with Moore and knew of no reason not to trust her, made sexual advances but was rebuffed, government sources said.

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The mayor, who had drunk several glasses of cognac, then asked for drugs, the sources said, and an undercover woman FBI agent who was posing as a friend of Moore produced some crack cocaine. Barry smoked the drug in a pipe, the sources said, and, as he prepared to depart, FBI agents burst through the door and arrested him for alleged possession of crack.

The sting has focused an intense and unwelcome spotlight on the 38-year-old former model and ex-convict, now a Burbank, Calif., resident. She returned to Los Angeles Wednesday but, apparently determined to avoid reporters, has stayed away from her apartment.

It was not her first disappearing act. Last year, she disappeared from contact with federal prosecutors in Washington who were keeping track of her as part of an investigation of possible drug use by the mayor. Only a drunk-driving arrest in Los Angeles just before midnight on New Year’s Day brought her back to the prosecutors’ attention.

Ultimately, it was the threat of being prosecuted for lying to a federal grand jury investigating allegations that Barry had used drugs, coupled with her deteriorating personal life, that led Moore to cooperate with the authorities, sources said.

Relationship Over

“She apparently realized that her relationship with Barry was over,” said one source. “She realized this was the end of the road.”

Much about Moore and her relationship with Barry, who is in a West Palm Beach, Fla., drug treatment clinic, remains unknown.

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But this much is known: The sequence of events that led to Barry’s arrest began with an aborted Dec. 22, 1988, drug investigation by District of Columbia police at a downtown Washington Ramada Inn.

Police had received a report that a former city employee named Charles Lewis was selling drugs in his hotel room. Two detectives were dispatched to the Ramada Inn, but, when they learned that Barry was in the room, they departed.

A subsequent FBI sting operation in the Virgin Islands caught Lewis selling cocaine to an undercover agent. He was later convicted.

Lewis told authorities that he had smoked crack with Barry at the Ramada Inn. He said that a woman he knew as “R. C.” had accompanied Barry to St. Thomas Island in March of 1986 for a long weekend at a luxury hotel. There, Lewis said, the three of them smoked crack, according to law enforcement sources.

Guessed Identity

District Police Sgt. Al Arrington, a member of the internal affairs unit, which had been working with the FBI on the Barry investigation, quickly realized that the woman might be Moore.

Then investigators learned--from people in New York, Florida and California, all of whom had seen the couple together--that Moore and Barry had had a decade-long, sometimes rocky relationship, sources said.

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Barry and Moore were together at the 1987 Super Bowl in Los Angeles, according to a ranking Los Angeles City Council staff member.

Several Moore acquaintances said that she rarely, if ever, spoke of her relationship with the mayor. “She was very reticent and not flamboyant,” said one woman who asked to remain anonymous. “I found out that she knew him through another friend. She never boasted about it.”

Another source said that Moore had become increasingly jealous not only because Barry was--and still is--married but also because she suspected Barry of seeing other women, including her friends.

However, a law enforcement source discounted the “scorned woman” theory.

In any event, Moore told a grand jury here last spring that she knew Barry only casually and that she did not use drugs.

Afterward, Moore left town, apparently for California. Moore is registered with the Screen Actors Guild, but she has no known screen credits.

Meanwhile, Arrington and other officials continued to court her as a source and perhaps a lure for Barry, sources said. Arrington apparently gained her trust--even as authorities confronted her with her grand jury testimony, which did not square with other accounts of drug use in the Virgin Islands.

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“She was facing the possibility of perjury charges because she lied in the past,” one source said.

Eluded Officials

In California, Moore suddenly began eluding Arrington and other officials. By December, authorities here sent Moore’s name out on a nationwide police computer linkup as someone whom the FBI very much wanted to interview.

Several weeks later, Moore was driving down Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood just before midnight in a 1976 maroon Peugeot sedan, allegedly without its headlights on.

When police officers stopped her, Moore told them she had left her driver’s license at home. According to her arrest report, Moore’s eyes were bloodshot and her speech was slurred. She reportedly stumbled as she reached the sidewalk, and she failed a sobriety test, registering a blood alcohol level of 0.12%, substantially higher than the legal limit of 0.08%.

At the Van Nuys jail, where Moore was booked, she gave her occupation as an unemployed social worker and her address as a $645-a-month two-bedroom apartment in Burbank.

The computer disclosed that the FBI was looking for her, and an FBI agent flew to Los Angeles to escort her back to Washington. There, officials painted a grim picture of the possible legal trouble she was in. They suggested that she think about herself and her three children.

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“The possibility of felony charges were very real,” said one source. He added that Moore’s recent “religious conversion” had probably made her more susceptible to the entreaties of prosecutors.

Finally, sources said, Moore let down her guard and began talking ruefully about her unhappy relationships with men, including Barry and her recently divorced husband. She spoke in intimate terms that surprised investigators, according to sources.

That set in motion the sting operation in Room 727 of the posh Vista Hotel.

Father Was Minister

Hazel Diane Moore was born in 1951 in Washington and grew up with seven brothers and sisters in a two-story brick row house in a middle-class Northwest Washington neighborhood. Her late father was a minister. Her mother is an organist at a neighborhood Baptist church.

Moore was graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1969 and Fisk University (Barry’s alma mater) in 1973 before seeking a career in modeling. Somewhere along the way, she took the name “Rasheeda.”

In 1974, Moore showed up at Cappa Chell, the same Vienna, Va., finishing school attended by Fawn Hall, the secretary of Oliver L. North when he was a National Security Council aide.

“I want to be the best and I want to learn everything this school has to offer,” Moore said as she plunked down $500 to enroll in an eight-month course, Gladys Baird Davis, the school’s president, recalled. She attended classes for two hours each Wednesday night.

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“She knew that other models had a quality she did not have,” Davis said. “She did not feel good” about her style, she added. “But her attitude was always very good. She wanted to learn and she was capable of following instructions, and that’s very important.”

As the course was ending, in April, 1975, Moore won first place in the annual Modeling Assn. of America’s international competition.

Two days after completing the course, the 5-foot-9, 115-pound model appeared in a Bill Blass show in the Starlight Room of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, according to Davis.

Moore signed on with the prestigious Wilhelmina International Ltd. in New York, where she quickly became one of its top models, making up to $50,500 a year, Frances Rothchild, the firm’s executive vice president, said.

Moore soon appeared on the cover of several national magazines, including Essence and W.

“When she was on the cover, it did very well,” Essence spokeswoman Carol Lynn Patterson said. “When we stopped working with her, it was because it was her choice to stop modeling and have a family.”

During the Barry sting operation, FBI agents baby-sat her three young children.

It was apparently after she returned to Washington, around 1979, that she and Barry met. For several years, Moore taught some classes and seminars at Cappa Chell, Davis said.

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Prosecuted for Theft

On the night of Jan. 7, 1984, she was arrested outside Washington’s National Airport and eventually prosecuted for theft.

Court documents show that she was sitting in an illegally parked Cadillac outside the terminal with a man named Eugene Crutch when a Federal Aviation Administration officer became suspicious.

A computer check of the car’s license plates showed that they belonged to a rental car and not to the Cadillac, leading to the couple’s arrest.

In federal court in Alexandria, Va., in May, Moore waived her right to a jury trial and pleaded guilty to unauthorized use of a vehicle. Prosecutors dismissed charges of car larceny and the use of a fraudulent driver’s license.

U.S. District Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. sentenced her to three years at the Alderson federal penitentiary in West Virginia but suspended all but six months of the sentence. And he ordered her to pay $538.99 in restitution.

She unsuccessfully appealed the sentence as a pauper, unable to pay for legal assistance.

Moore was released in December, 1985, and placed on three years’ probation. She turned to social work.

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Records show that Washington’s Department of Employment Services in 1986 awarded a $52,488 contract to the now-defunct Designer Goldfinger Co., which was owned by one of Moore’s sisters, Mertine, to provide self-esteem and career-awareness training for 200 local teen-agers. The director of Project Me was Rasheeda Moore.

A year later, Designer Goldfinger was awarded a $126,000 contract to provide the same training, this time for 500 youths. Again, Rasheeda Moore served as project director.

According to Larry Brown, a spokesman for the Employment Services Department, both programs were “extremely innovative.”

In addition, Moore worked as a social services representative of the city’s Department of Human Services sporadically from the March, 1987, through July, 1988.

Staff writers Douglas Frantz, James Gerstenzang, Jason Johnson, Ronald J. Ostrow, Sean Pogatchnik, David G. Savage and in Washington, John J. Goldman and Lisa Romaine in New York and Ron Harris in Los Angeles contributed to this story.

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