The brief court appearance lacked much drama, as Thomas went through the perfunctory plea proceedings before answering Judge John D. Bates‘ question of whether he was guilty or not.
“Guilty as charged, your honor,” Thomas said.
According to a plea agreement, Thomas is facing between 37 months and 46 months in prison. The judge gets the final say on Thomas’ punishment, which could be either more or less than what the plea says. Thomas’ sentencing is set for May 3—within days, most likely, of a special election to fill his seat.
Thomas’ court appearance lasted less than an hour. Most of the time he stood before the judge, flanked by his lawyer Seth Rosenthal, with a squat security guard with a military haircut standing directly behind the councilmember.
Thomas answered the judge’s questions about whether he’s sane or addicted to drugs, and whether understands the serious trouble he’s in (in order: yes, no, yes) in clear, short responses. Dressed in a dark blue suit, Thomas looked somber before and during the hearing. But right after the judge adjourned, Thomas smiled and gave a wink to his friends and family, who packed one side of the courtroom.
In the hallway outside the courtroom, Thomas’ supporters prayed for his family while gathered around his mother and wife. He’s about to talk to the press now outside the courthouse.
UPDATE: Thomas just addressed the media, by reading the exact same statement he released last night.
He refused to answer any questions, including WUSA9’s Bruce Johnson‘s query as to what Thomas’ father, former D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas Sr., would think of this whole mess.
Thomas was escorted to an awaiting towncar by burly supporter who kept whispering encouragements in Thomas’ ear as practically every local TV news camera tried to get footage of Thomas walking away.
The burly dude and a cameraman got into a brief scuffle after Thomas drove away.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery