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As the District enters the summer sleepy season, here’s something to ponder: What did Rev. Anthony Motley do to avoid any jail time?

Motley played a key role in late Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry’s schemes to plunder city grant money through earmarks and shady nonprofits. Barry earned himself a Council censure in 2010; Motley got away scot-free—or so LL thought, until last month, when Motley entered a surprising guilty plea for a new charge of fraud related to the now-six-year-old crime.

In the feds’ telling, Motley schemed with an unnamed nonprofit employee to lift more than $35,000 for himself out of grants steered by Barry that were meant to help foster children (Motley’s unnamed associate made off with an unnamed amount of his own). Motley also plundered other unnamed grants, adding up to more than $50,000 for himself personally.

It’s all very Harry Thomas Jr.-chic. Unlike with the disgraced former councilmember, though, prosecutors dragged their heels on actually charging Motley. His whole scheme has been laid out since 2010, when a Council investigative report revealed  him taking the money and cooking up supporting documents when investigators came calling.

But what’s stranger still about Motley is how light he’s getting off. The guy plunders north of $50,000, helps somebody else do something similar, and prosecutors are now recommending that he not get any jail time. Instead, according to a document filed along with his plea, the U.S. Attorney’s Office just wants him to get probation at his sentencing next month.

That’s enough to make shadow campaign maestro Jeff Thompson, facing only six months of house arrest for corrupting District elections, jealous. In Thompson’s case, though, it’s clear that he’s supposed to give up ex-Mayor Vince Gray and who knows how many other pols. Motley’s value to prosecutors is less clear, since his biggest potential get—Barry—is dead.

Prosecutors aren’t talking. As for Motley, usually a reliable quote machine about east of the river machinations? He says he’s “not going to be able to comment on that.” Check back on June 24, when Motley will receive his sentence, and presumably, prosecutors will outline whatever deal is keeping him out of the pen.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery