Former D.C. Council Member Harry Thomas Jr. was sentenced by a federal judge May 3 to 38 months in prison for stealing more than $350,000 in taxpayer funds.
Thomas pleaded guilty in January to using nearly $350,000 from a nonprofit with which he was affiliated. He used the funds, originally intended for youth sports programs, to purchase an SUV, travel and for other personal expenditures.
At the May 3 hearing, federal prosecutors said Thomas actually stole more than $440,000, not the $350,000 originally believed, from the programs and that his theft began even before he was sworn in as a council member in 2007.
Thomas had faced a possible maximum of 51 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. Prosecutors sought 46 months, while Thomas’ attorneys asked for 18 months, saying the former Ward 5 Democrat’s history of community service should be taken into consideration.
weeks ago said officials at the Children’s Youth Investment Trust Corp. failed to detect fraudulent expenditures and that Thomas may have had help from someone in city government when he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the nonprofit group, but did not identify anyone who may have assisted the former Council member.
The trust was created in 2007 by then-Mayor Anthony A. Williams as a quasi-public agency that would manage public and private money designated to help disadvantaged youngsters. That year, Thomas persuaded the Council to approve $400,000 for youth baseball programs, part of a $12 million earmarks package for Council members’ pet projects.
On Saturday, voters will cast ballots in the race to replace Thomas. According to The Washington Post, it will be the first time there has not been a Harry Thomas on Ward 5 council ballots since 1982. The late Harry Thomas Sr. served on the D.C. Council for 12 years and was highly regarded for his constituent services.
Thomas’ case is one of three federal probes involving sitting D.C. officials. Mayor Vincent Gray’s 2010 election campaign is under investigation for purported shadow activities on his behalf, including alleged cash payoffs to another candidate to attack then-incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty. Council Chairman Kwame Brown’s 2008 at-large campaign is being reviewed for allegedly unreported transactions and other irregularities.