Budget autonomy plaintiff Phil Mendelson

There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.

Former Harry Thomas Jr. staffer Neil Rodgers is awaiting sentencing for helping the councilmember make off with money meant for kids, but he still has a couple friends in the District government. In letters sent ahead of Rodgers’ sentencing, D.C. Council chairman Phil Mendelson and other bigwigs ask for leniency.

In March, a jury convicted Rodgers of fraud for helping Thomas direct more than $100,000 meant for youth drug prevention to cover the tab for a 2009 inaugural ball. Notably, the ball’s attendees weren’t that young.

Prosecutors want Rodgers, the only participant in Thomas’ schemes who fought the charges against him, to do a year in prison. Rodgers’ own lawyers, on the other hand, have asked U.S. District Judge John D. Bates to impose probation.

Count Mendelson among the doves. In a letter to Bates, Mendelson asks the judge to show leniency to Rodgers, whom other letter writers describe suffering sleeplessness and weight loss during the prosecution. Mendelson declined to comment on the letter.

“This, undoubtedly, has been a very difficult ordeal to endure,” Mendelson writes. “I ask that in sentencing Mr. Rodgers you take in account his long years of public service, and the impact on both his personal and professional life that has resulted from the several years he has been subject to this scrutiny.”

Mendelson isn’t the only District official weighing in on Rodgers’ behalf. Eric GouletVince Gray‘s former budget director, recalls in a letter to Bates how Rodgers told him to stop eating so much fast food.

“Incarceration is not an answer for this warm and caring human being,” Goulet writes.

Rodgers’ sentencing is set for June 16.

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Photo by Darrow Montgomery