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D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. and the D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan are apparently ready to kiss and make up—for six easy payments of $50,000.
In June, Nathan sued Thomas for allegedly taking some $300,000 in city money earmarked for youth baseball programs and using them for personal expenses including an Audi SUV. Earlier this month, LL reported that other expenses incurred by Thomas’ non-profit Team Thomas had included a $140 tab at Hooters, a $170 debit card expense at a perfume store, and thousands of dollars spent at golf courses around the country.
As part of their settlement, Thomas will not only pay back the District $300,000, but has also agreed not have anything to do with “directing, controlling, or participating in the solicitation of charitable contributions in the District” for the next five years (except for his consitiuent services fund). Thomas has also agreed to donate $50,000 worth of sporting goods equipment to a local little league team.
What effect, if any, this settlement has on the ongoing probe by the U.S. Attorney’s Office is the big question.
When Nathan first sued Thomas, the councilmember drove up to a Wilson Building news conference in said Audi and declared that he had no intention of settleing because he’d done nothing wrong. Thomas has promised LL a statement in a few minutes, and LL will update when it comes in.
While we wait, here’s the full statement from the attorney general after the jump:
District of Columbia Attorney General Irvin Nathan announced today a settlement with Councilmember Harry L. Thomas, Jr. to recover substantially all of the funds allegedly diverted by Mr. Thomas from the District. Mr. Thomas has agreed to repay the city $300,000 over the next two years and the District has agreed to dismiss its suit, which claims that Mr. Thomas unlawfully diverted DC Council-earmarked grants and charitable donations for his personal or political benefit, including the purchase of a luxury sports utility vehicle, golfing vacations, and the publication of a brochure extolling his public service.
The written settlement agreement and a Consent Judgment against Mr. Thomas were filed in D.C. Superior Court today. Under the agreement, Mr. Thomas will make a total payment to the District of $300,000.00, with an initial payment of $50,000 today, and five more installment payments of $50,000 each between now and December, 2013. The agreement also precludes Mr. Thomas for a period of five years from directing, controlling, or participating in the solicitation of charitable contributions in the District, with the exception of his so-called Constituent Fund. Further, Mr. Thomas’ for-profit company HLT Team Thomas / Swingaway, LLC is required to donate sporting goods and equipment that Mr. Thomas represents are valued at $50,000 to the Satchel Paige / Senators Little League, a D.C. affiliate of the congressionally chartered national organization for Little League Baseball. Mr. Thomas also has agreed to facilitate the transfer of other sporting goods and equipment to the District. The agreement will be fully enforceable in court against all of Mr. Thomas’s property should he fail to comply with the terms of the agreement.
The settlement agreement arises out of a civil enforcement action filed by the District against Councilmember Thomas on June 6, 2011, following an extensive investigation by the Office of the Attorney General. The Complaint alleges that, using the resources of his Council office, Mr. Thomas obtained largely for his personal use funds that had been ear-marked for “youth baseball programs” and solicited, without a District charitable solicitation license and without a 501(c)(3) organization, and raised funds from private donors for alleged charitable purposes that were never established. The District funds were provided by Council legislation in 2007 to the D.C. Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation, which at Mr. Thomas’s direction, passed them to the Langston 21st Century Foundation, which in turn, at Mr. Thomas’s direction, secretly paid most of the money to Mr. Thomas through his for-profit and non-profit corporations. Much of the money was then spent for the personal benefit of Mr. Thomas. The Complaint is understood to be the first-ever civil enforcement action filed by the Office of the Attorney General against a sitting member of the City Council. The Office previously settled with principals of the Langston foundation for $86,000, bringing the total amount of the cash settlements in this matter to $386,000.
Attorney General Nathan stated that “We are pleased that Councilman Thomas has agreed to cooperate with us, repay his debt and spare the District the burden, expense and distraction of proving its case in court. At the same time, our unrelenting persistence in bringing and prosecuting this action demonstrates our commitment to pursue anyone, no matter his or her station or influence, who would deprive the city of its precious resources or who would use his or her position of trust and influence to obtain District of Columbia funds for personal gain.” The Attorney General stated further that his office would be vigilant in seeking to ensure that there is full compliance with the settlement agreement.