Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. was a crook from the very beginning. The statement of offense that Thomas agreed was true today in federal court outlines how Thomas began stealing city money just months after he put his hand on a bible and swore to represent the same council seat his late father had held. The court records also show that Thomas had plenty of help. As U.S. Attorney Ron Machen hinted at a news conference today, there could be more heads to roll in this sordid mess.
Much of Thomas’ illegal behavior has already been documented by D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan, who sued Thomas in a civil case this summer. From Nathan’s case we knew that Thomas had directed $400,000 in city funds to be sent to the Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation to fund sporting activities for inner city youths, which awarded a grant to Langston 21st Century Foundation, which sent most of that money to Thomas, who spent that money on an Audi SUV and golf trips. Today we learned that Thomas actually did set up some youth sporting activities, like a day camp at Charles Young Elementary School. But the money for those came from the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, while Thomas spent the grant money on himself. (He was chairman of the council committee that oversaw DPR at the time.)
We also learned today that Thomas used the same pass-through scheme with two other unnamed organizations. After Thomas won his first election to the Ward 5 seat, but before he was sworn in, he met with the head of a for-profit company that provides “arts-oriented youth programs” to discuss ways of getting city funds for the company. In April 2007, the fourth month of his tenure, Thomas told the head of the company that he could get it $60,000. The two agreed, court records say, to give Thomas a cut of $15,000. In July of that year, Thomas directed the CYITC to pay the company. The company wound up paying Thomas $25,000, court records show.
The statement of offense also shows that Thomas used yet another unnamed organization in 2009 to pad his pocket. On Aug. 8, 2009, Thomas directed the CYITC to send this third organization $10,000 for a “summer program.” This time, Thomas’ price had gone up: His cut was 50 percent. The court records also show that Thomas used that same organization to funnel $110,000 from CYITC to the D.C. Young Democrats to help cover the costs of the 51st State Inaugural Ball, a celebration of President Barack Obama‘s inauguration that was held at the Wilson Building and organized by Thomas. The former councilmember’s cut of that money was $7,500 for unnamed expenses related to the ball.
Just who are these unnamed people and organizations that did business with the disgraced pol? LL is working to find out and will report more shortly.
Photo By Darrow Montgomery