WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Harry Thomas Jr. Sentenced To 38 Months In Prison

Play associated audio

Former D.C. Council Member Harry Thomas Jr. has been sentenced in federal court to 38 months in prison for stealing government funds.

Thomas pleaded guilty earlier this year to embezzling more than $350,000 in public funds and filing false tax returns. While characterizing himself as an advocate for the youth of the District, he secretly used funds earmarked for youth programs on lavish trips and a luxury SUV.

In making this decision, Judge Bates used the word "betrayal" nearly half a dozen times, saying Thomas had betrayed the public trust, his colleagues, his family and most importantly, the underprivileged children the funds he embezzled were supposed to help.

Before the sentence was handed down, Thomas faced the judge and offered what he called a "brutally honest assessment" of why he stole the money. He said it came out of a sense of entitlement; that he lost touch with his morals when took office. He apologized for the humiliation he caused his family and the city.

Pressed by reporters in Wednesday's bi-weekly press conference to comment on the sentencing, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray reluctantly weighed in on the actions of his former colleague on the council.

"I don't understand why this happened," said Gray. "I haven't asked, I haven't seen him. I don't know why this happened. It was a shocker to me."

Lawyers for Thomas made the case that the former councilmember should receive a lighter sentence because of his past work with the city's youth. In a follow-up letter to the judge this week, defense attorneys for Thomas criticized the prosecutors recommendation filing, calling it an unjust caricature of Thomas.

The 38-month prison term he received was less than the nearly four years in prison prosecutors called for, but is still a lengthy sentence. Judge Bates said he hopes it will serve as a deterrent to other public officials.

There is no parole for federal sentences, so Thomas will serve the full term.

WAMU 88.5

Customers Bid Farewell To One Of The D.C. Region's Last Video Stores

Longtime movie lovers say they'll miss the shop, but they'll especially mourn the gradual death of an American tradition.
NPR

Tabasco And Beer-Flavored: Not Your Easter Bunny's Jelly Beans

On the eve of Easter and National Jelly Bean Day, let us probe the mysterious origins and unexpected ascendency of the humble candy. And to celebrate, we've sampled Jelly Belly's newest flavors.
WAMU 88.5

Analysis: U.S. Capitol Renovations And The D.C. Council's Lawsuit Against Mayor Gray

Roll Call's David Hawkings joins Matt Bush to discuss the D.C. council's suit against Mayor Gray and the expensive process of rehabilitating the U.S. Capitol Dome.
WAMU 88.5

Free Public Wi-Fi Comes To NoMa

The NoMa Business Improvement District has started to provide free Wi-Fi in some parts of the neighborhood, but some users say the service is still too sluggish.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.