Harry Thomas Jr.

Harry Thomas Jr. will go to federal prison for 38 months, then serve three years of probation, for stealing more than $350,000 in city funds, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates ruled this morning.

“This is a case of betrayal,” Bates said.

Before the sentencing, Thomas blamed his theft of on “a sense of entitlement.” He briefly choked up when he told the judge that he had humiliated his family, including his mother Romaine Thomas, who also testified on her son’s behalf at the sentencing, asking the judge for leniency.

The sentence was less than the 46 months that federal prosecutors had asked for, but also far more than the 18 months Thomas’ attorneys had recommended.

D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan, whose office (under his predecessor, Peter Nickles, had launched the investigation that led to Thomas’ plea), applauded the news: “The sentence imposed on former Councilmember Thomas sends a strong message to those who would abuse the power of their District government positions to enrich themselves at the expense of the public:  There will be serious consequences for such unlawful actions.”

During the hearing this morning, Thomas’ lawyers made the case that their client deserved a light sentence because he devoted himself to teaching the city’s youth life lessons through sports. Attorney Karl Racine even said Thomas was teaching children about owning up to one’s mistakes by pleading guilty. What Racine didn’t mention, of course, was the protracted period during which Thomas proclaimed his innocence, even after the District’s attorney general had essentially accused him of the same crimes he would eventually admit.

LL will have more on the sentencing when he’s back in the office.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery