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While most of the people involved in former Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr.‘s scheme to plunder city funds have plead guilty, former Thomas staffer Neil Rodgers decided to fight the charges. Rodgers is charged with funneling drug prevention grant money meant for young people to cover debts owed by the D.C. Young Democrats after a 2008 inaugural ball in the Wilson Building.
Since Rodgers allegedly misused money meant for youth, prosecutors are looking to prove that there weren’t many young folks at the party, according to a new motion filed by Rodgers’ lawyer Billy Martin. Prosecutors are attempting to introduce three YouTube videos of go-go performances during the party in what Martin suspects is a move to show that the party wasn’t aimed at young people.
Prosecutors’ evidence packet includes performances from Chuck Brown and go-go band Rare Essence. Most interestingly, it also includes a performance of go-go classic “Da Butt,” while then-Ward 8 councilmember Marion Barry (72 at the time) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (71) dance with Thomas (47). Since the allegedly looted funds were meant in part for children under 18 years old who had been affected by drugs, the dancing, decidedly not under-18 pols don’t look great for Rodgers’ defense.
“Presumably, the Government intends to introduce the Videos to support its contention that the Ball was not directed at ‘youth,'” Martin writes in his motion.
Martin insists that the video’s few shots of the mayor-for-life and the District’s longtime delegate, as well as brief glances down Wilson Building hallways, don’t prove that the inaugural ball was only for the olds.
Martin, who wants the videos excluded at trial, didn’t respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Ron Machen wouldn’t talk about an open case.