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Former Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. has been out of prison for a year, but he’s not done apologizing to the voters who put him in a position to steal more than $350,000. Thomas headed to the Queens Chapel Civic Association last night to continue his apology tour.
“I apologize for the grief I took you through,” Thomas told his former constituents, adding, “There’s no political agenda with this.”
Thomas might not be a candidate, but his return to public life definitely does have a political agenda. After serving a prison term for plundering more than $350,000 in grant money meant for at-risk kids and anti-drug efforts, Thomas is back to agitate against a prison system he says returns prisoners to “slavery status.”
Where once he blew stolen money on chic goods like leather chaps and an Audi SUV, Thomas has restyled himself as an ex-offender activist with a prison theology degree. In what sounded an awful lot to LL like a stump speech, Thoma talked about his prison stretch by weaving in everything from University of Maryland basketball player Len Bias‘ 1986 cocaine overdose to the cost of prison phone calls.
At one point in his prison term, Thomas flew back to the District to cooperate with prosecutors on a case, only to find himself on a plane he said was straight out of Con Air.
Unlike the thousands of other ex-prisoners who return to the city each year, Thomas still enjoys at least some political support garnered by his father, former Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Sr.
“I just love him, he’s still my councilmember,” said one woman in the audience. “Don’t tell [Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie].”
Thomas says he probably won’t run next year, but he didn’t rule it out. Either way, he’s keeping a politician’s schedule, attending three meetings in a single night.
“This feels like I’m back on the circuit,” Thomas said.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery