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For a second there, Keely Thompson seemed like U.S. Attorney Ron Machen‘s best chance to add another elected official to his collection of Wilson Building crooks. Thompson, busted for pilfering city grant money to fund his gambling habit, claimed that he gave kickbacks to Ward 1 D.C. Councilmember Jim Graham. It doesn’t take much to convince the feds to pursue Graham, but the federal investigators following Thompson’s tips ran into one big problem: Thompson lied, a lot.
Thompson is currently serving a 30-month sentence at a federal prison in Maryland after prosecutors told a judge he didn’t help in any investigations. Now, an unsealed addendum from the U.S. Attorney’s Office about Thompson’s “cooperation” shows just how unreliable he was.
Graham has said repeatedly that he didn’t do anything wrong, and the addendum backs that up. While prosecutors claim Graham’s staff did intervene with grantors who threatened to cut Thompson off, including the troubled Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation, Graham’s own bank account didn’t show deposits around times Thompson claimed he gave Graham kickbacks. Investigators acknowledge that Graham was the first person to dime out Thompson, and they refused Thompson’s offer to wear a wire in conversations with a Graham staffer.
More damningly for Thompson, the addendum devotes two pages to individual inconsistencies in his accounts. Thompson claimed he met with Graham to give him a kickback so Graham could pay for a plane ticket, but Graham wasn’t even in the country when Thompson claims the meeting took place. Meanwhile, the only person Thompson provided to back up his claims was a convicted murderer, and even he contradicted Thompson’s claims when FBI agents visited him in prison.
The addendum turns comic when agents accuse Thompson of leaking to Washington Post columnist Colby King. After Thompson plead guilty last June, King wrote a column that talked up Thompson’s potential to cooperate, then proposed a hypothetical scenario in which a hypothetical city grant recipient offered a kickback to a hypothetical elected District official while his friends watched.
King didn’t respond to LL’s request for comment, but the fact that King’s “hypothetical” scheme sounded exactly like Thompson’s own claims wasn’t lost on investigators. They called a meeting to ask Thompson whether he was leaking, but it didn’t go well:
During the debriefing, Thompson agreed that the information contained in King’s article was strikingly similar to the information he provided to law enforcement. When asked whether Thompson was the source for the Washington Post, Thompson became upset, denied speaking to the Washington Post, and accused the agents of being the leak.
Thompson, who was blabbing all he could to the feds, didn’t like being accused of also blabbing to the Post. In a fitting description for their entire fruitless effort with Thompson, prosecutors write that “Thompson became combative and ended the meeting.”
Photo by Will Sommer