APNewsBreak: Feds Charge DC Councilman With Theft

Published January 5, 2012 6:00PM (EST)

WASHINGTON (AP) — D.C. Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. was charged Thursday with stealing more than $350,000 in government funds and filing false tax returns.

The two felony counts against Thomas, a 51-year-old Democrat, were detailed in a criminal information document filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday. That document typically indicates a defendant intends to plead guilty.

Although the document does not say what Thomas did with the alleged stolen funds from the District of Columbia. He had been previously accused of spending the money on a luxury SUV, travel and rounds of golf. Thomas agreed to pay back $300,000 in a civil settlement with the District of Columbia attorney general, although he missed a scheduled $50,000 payment that was due Tuesday.

The tax return charge accuses Thomas of failing to report $356,000 in income between 2007 and 2009.

Thomas was also ordered to forfeit an SUV and a motorcycle that were seized last month by federal agents who raided his home.

His attorney, Frederick Cooke, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. The U.S. Attorney's Office also had no immediate comment.

Thomas is the son of a longtime D.C. councilmember. He was elected in 2006 to represent Ward 5, a majority-black, mixed-income section of the district that includes parts of its northeast and northwest quadrants. He was re-elected in 2010.

Within the past two weeks, he has encouraged his remaining staff to search for new jobs, according to multiple council employees with knowledge of his actions who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose that information.

District of Columbia law would allow him to continue serving until he goes to prison, but a guilty plea related to misuse of city funds would make it difficult for him to remain in office.

By Salon Staff

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