Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. stands accused of not only steering more than $300,000 worth of city funds into his own pockets, but doing it poorly.
Attorney General Irv Nathan dropped a civil suit against Thomas today for taking an earmark for “youth baseball programs” and spending it on himself—allegedly for things like an Audi SUV, golf at Pebble Beach, and airline tickets. Nathan has also referred the matter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but a spokesman for the office says it was already investigating Thomas, anyway. The FBI is involved, as well; spokeswoman Katherine Schweit says the agency has been providing “assistance” to the U.S. Attorney’s investigation.
According to Nathan’s lawsuit, Thomas’ bush league corruption involves steering $316,000 of a $400,000 earmark from the D.C. Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation to the non-profit Langston 21st Century Foundation, which, at Thomas’ direction, gave the money to Thomas’ non-profit and the for-profit version of Team Thomas.
Thomas then took that money and spent it on himself, the lawsuit says. Here’s one example: On Feb. 6, 2008, the complaint says, Langston wrote Thomas, at his direction, two checks for $75,000 total. Thomas put the money in his account the same day, and two days later bought himself a $59,000 Audi.
Nathan said at a news conference today that Thomas’ actions were “willful, intentional, and knowing” and says he wants Thomas to reimburse the city the money.
Thomas says he’s done nothing wrong, and will be having a news conference shortly. So stay tuned.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery