The Rev. Anthony Motley is a well-known political operator in the District. (Facebook Photo)

The Rev. Anthony Motley, a longtime political operator with ties to the late Marion S. Barry, pled guilty to misallocating grant funds, an offense that took place several years ago.

A May 11 story from the Washington City Paper said Motley pled guilty in D.C. Superior Court on April 28 to stealing $52,063 from various grants in 2008 and 2009. The publication reported that Motley used his organization, Inner Thoughts Inc., to illegally take grant money intended for the National Association of Former Foster Care Children of America.

Motley said, however, that he didn’t steal any money, but he didn’t properly use the money received legally.

“The situation is real and I regret the actions of seven years ago,” Motley told the AFRO on May 14. “I made a mistake.”

His attorney, Rodney Mitchell, confirmed that Motley is facing a first-degree fraud charge for the misallocation of funds. If convicted, Motley could face up to 10 years in prison, Mitchell said. Mitchell said Motley has cooperated with the FBI and with prosecutors of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and he hopes the minister won’t be incarcerated.

Motley will be sentenced on June 24 before D.C. Superior Court Judge Yvonne M. Williams.

Motley is a native Washingtonian who has served in the military and is a graduate of the University of Detroit and the Howard University School of Divinity.

He has worked in various capacities with Barry on his campaigns for political office and from 1987-1990, Motley served as a special assistant to the president of the United States tasked with helping the then Reagan and Bush administrations come up with policies to stop drug abuse.

In 2001, Motley worked to found the J.O.B.S. Coalition of Greater Washington, a collaborative between the faith community, construction industry, and community leaders to employ residents who have difficulty in getting and keeping employment. Motley is a minister at the Cathedral of Christ Baptist Church in Capitol Heights, Md.

Motley said that there was a “lot going on” during the time he committed the offenses and said that Barry had nothing to do with the situation. He said he has always wanted to help people and will continue to do so despite his legal troubles.

Motley said that since the reporting of his legal matters, people have been both supportive and hostile to him. “A lot of people are angry at me and they have said some hurtful things about me,” he said. “I am happy that many people in D.C. and in the ward are standing by me and I have their support. It is in times like these that you learn who your true friends are.”

Motley said that he hopes that the judge will allow him to stay with his family and continue his work in the community. He said that he now knows how returning citizens feel after they finish doing their time. “People are quick to judge and cast aspersion,” Motley said. “When you are a returning citizen, you face disdain and ostracism. What I want is what other returning citizens want, to go on living their life.”

Motley has taken a leave of absence as the leader of the Anacostia Coordinating Council’s faith committee. Natalie Williams, the president of the Ward 8 Democrats, said that she wants to speak to Motley personally about his legal problems and then to the organization’s executive board before taking action on his chairmanship of the influential Issues and Legislation Committee.

Ronald Williams, a political activist in Ward 8, said that Motley’s actions are reprehensible based on what he has heard and read. “Rev. Motley is a disgrace to the cloth and to the community,” Williams said. “The cloak of Marion Barry is being lifted after his death and the dirt is coming out.”

Williams said that Motley “preyed upon foster kids” and should, at the least, repay the money he misused.

D.C. Council member LaRuby May (D-Ward 8) said that she wants to give Motley the benefit of the doubt. “I don’t know anything about his situation and I need to get more information,” May said. “I really don’t know him personally but I want to get all the facts. That would be fair to him.”