NO ONE WILL EVER ACCUSE MARLENE Chalmers Cooke of being one of the idle rich. In fact, as the fourth wife of Jack Kent Cooke—the 80-year-old billionaire owner of the Washington Redskins—the 40ish Marlene seems to thrive on colorful adventures. Consider her most recent escapade, which occurred around 1 a.m. on Sept. 15 when police stopped her as she zoomed through the streets of Georgetown—-with a man clinging to the hood of her Jaguar. Asked if she would care to remove her gold high heels to take a sobriety test, Marlene reportedly flung one of the pumps at the officer's face. She also told police that the man on her hood, Patrick Wermer, 26, with whom she is frequently seen socializing, was her nephew and that they were returning from a baby shower. Later, after being booked for driving under the influence and reckless driving, Marlene tried to shrug off the whole incident. "This is ridiculous. I didn't do anything," she said as she hustled out of Traffic Division headquarters. "I didn't commit any crime. I didn't kill anyone."
Perhaps not. But ever since she wed Cooke in 1990, the details of Marlene's life have been an endless source of fascination in and around the nation's capital. For instance, there is the small matter of her police rap sheet. At the time of the marriage, the Bolivian-born Marlene, who came to the U.S. in the mid-'70s, had finished serving four months in federal prison for conspiracy to import cocaine. Ever since her 1986 bust, the Immigration and Naturalization Service has been trying to deport her.
Then, in a celebrated incident last year, Marlene was treated for a gunshot wound to the hand. She claimed she had found the unregistered handgun in a trunk at the Cookes' Northwest Washington home and that it had accidentally discharged.
In the past, Cooke has steadfastly defended his wife. (The pair met through Jack's third wife, Suzanne, who had been an acquaintance of Marlene's.) As the latest scandal continued to grip the interest of Beltway insiders, though, the flamboyant power baron was lying low and holding his silence.
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