WASHINGTON — A former longtime aide to Atty. Gen. Dick Thornburgh who served as his liaison with Justice Department investigative agencies was indicted Friday by a federal grand jury on four counts of using cocaine and lying to the FBI about it.
Henry G. Barr, 47, who earlier held the post of counsel for Thornburgh when he was governor of Pennsylvania, left the Justice Department on May 12, 1989, a month after the indictment alleged he possessed cocaine at a private residence in Camp Hill, Pa.
Thornburgh reacted to the latest personnel setback by describing the indictment as "a personal tragedy" for Barr, who he said had "devoted many years of his career to public service." He added that he recused himself from the case after learning of the allegations and that he had no knowledge of the particular circumstances.
The Harrisburg, Pa., grand jury charged that Barr falsely stated in a government security form on Sept. 12, 1988, that he had not used illegal drugs in the prior five years, knowing that he had used cocaine. Barr was required to complete the form in connection with obtaining a highly sensitive security clearance that Thornburgh had requested for him.
In a second count, the indictment alleged that Barr lied to an FBI agent conducting a background investigation on Nov. 1, 1988, by denying he had ever used illegal drugs.
The grand jury also charged Barr with conspiring from at least December, 1984, to January, 1988, with unnamed others to possess and ingest cocaine and conceal the use of the drug at various locations in the Harrisburg area, including private residences. The years included the period Barr served Thornburgh as his counsel in Pennsylvania's capital.
A final count alleged that Barr illegally possessed cocaine at a private residence in Camp Hill, Pa., on April 8, 1989. A month later, Barr resigned his Justice Department post for "personal reasons," saying he was returning to private practice.
Barr's indictment is part of a 14-month FBI investigation into drug use by public officials and health care professionals in the Harrisburg, Pa., area.
If convicted on all counts, Barr could be sentenced to a maximum of 12 years imprisonment.