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Millicent West, who two mayors placed in charge of a more than $100 million-a-year city agency responsible for the District’s security and emergency management, pleaded guilty today to a felony tax charge for her minor role in helping former Ward 5 Councilmember and current federal prison inmate Harry Thomas Jr.‘s theft of city funds.
West headed the Children & Youth Investment Trust Corp in 2009, when she helped Thomas get $110,000 in grant money in order to cover the cost of an inaugural party thrown at the Wilson Building. According to testimony today in court and previously filed court records, after Thomas threw the inagurual bash, he was way short of funds, so he went to West a few days after the event looking for a payday. With the help of Thomas’ chief of staff, Neil Rodgers, West helped divert $110,000 in money that had been raised for youth drug prevention programs to help pay for the party. West is now the fifth person to plead guilty to felony charges related to Thomas’ misbehavior, and the federal investigation is ongoing. Rodgers has not been charged with any crime.
“Unfortunately, as we have seen too many times, she agreed to break the law to appease a crooked public official who was intent on carrying out a criminal scheme,” U.S. Attorney Ron Machen said in a statement. “As a result, she allowed more than $100,000 intended to keep D.C. kids off drugs to be used to throw a party for adults. This prosecution underscores the importance of standing up to corruption rather than becoming complicit in it.”
Former Mayor Adrian Fenty appointed West to head the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency in 2009. She was one of the few department heads holdovers Mayor Vince Gray kept in his administration. West was forced to resign after her role in the Thomas affair became public.
And the $110,000 Thomas stole to pay for the party? The same judge that accepted West’s guilty plea today ruled last year that Thomas did not have to pay that back.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery