Harry Thomas Jr.

Former Harry Thomas Jr. staffer Neil Rodgers won’t be following his old boss’ path as a full-time resident of the federal prison system. At his sentencing today, Rodgers received two years probation, a $110,000 bill, and just 12 weekends in prison.

That’s a lot less than prosecutors wanted for Rodgers, who was found guilty of fraud in March. For helping Thomas funnel $110,000 meant for youth drug prevention to cover the tab for a raucous Wilson Building inauguration party, prosecutors wanted Rodgers to serve a year in prison. Rodgers’ attorneys wanted him to receive just probation.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates rejected both sentencing proposals, saying that he aimed to deter other would-be corrupt officials while also weighing letters from Rodgers’ supporters (including D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson).

“Public officials need to know that there are real consequences, including incarceration,” Bates said.

Rodgers, who insists he didn’t know what he did was illegal, said that he was so ashamed by the investigation that he hates going out in public.

“I have witnessed what I hoped would be a stellar career disintegrate into a legacy of distrust and thievery,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers’ weekends in prison will amount in practice to just 24 days, but the prison system will count them as 36 days. Rodgers also owes $110,000 to the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, the organization that provided the stolen grant money.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery