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At a sentencing hearing yesterday, prominent Ward 8 activist Rev. Anthony Motley received probation for stealing more than $52,000 in grant money.

Motley will also have to pay back the $52,063 he stole with his nonprofit through two grants, a bill, he told Judge Yvonne M. Williams, that will require him to get another job. Motley pleaded guilty in April to his role in the 2008 and 2009 schemes, which were laid out in the 2010 D.C. Council investigation into late Ward 8 councilmember and Motley pal Marion Barry.

Williams was suspicious of how Motley, after more than 20 years of nonprofit work, could have broken the law by taking the money for himself.

“I’m not quite sure how you could have gotten involved in this,” Williams said.

Motley’s hearing didn’t explain the mysteries at the center of the case: why the U.S. Attorney’s Office pursued Motley five years after his crimes were laid out in a Council investigation, and why they recommended that he receive probation after stealing more than $50,000 meant for vulnerable people.

Motley’s suspended eight-month jail sentence and two years of probation suggest that he helped the feds. Alas, U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Matthew Jones tells LL that he can’t comment “on the nature of Motley’s cooperation.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery