Law enforcement official: FBI, IRS agents searching home of DC Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr.

D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr.

The Washington Post on December 2, 2011 released the following:

“By Associated Press

WASHINGTON — FBI and IRS agents searched the home Friday of D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., who’s been under investigation for several months after being accused of diverting more than $300,000 in city funds for personal use.

The official, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the matter, said the search was related to an ongoing investigation of the councilmember. Authorities are not expected to make any arrests, unseal documents or make any public announcements Friday related to the case.

Federal authorities have been investigating Thomas, a Democrat representing Ward 5, at least since June, when the District of Columbia attorney general filed a lawsuit accusing him of spending more than $300,000 in city funds on a luxury SUV, vacations and other personal expenses. Thomas agreed to repay the money but did not admit any wrongdoing.

In the wake of the allegations, Thomas stepped down from his chairmanship of the Council’s committee on economic development. Three of his colleagues called on him to resign, but he has vowed to remain in office.

Thomas’ attorneys, Frederick Cooke and Seth Rosenthal, did not immediately return messages seeking comment. A call to Thomas’ Council office went straight to voicemail.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the district is aware of the search, said Bill Miller, a spokesman for the office. He declined to comment further because the investigation is ongoing.

Patrick Brown, a spokesman for the IRS criminal investigation division, said IRS agents were at Thomas’ home “on official business.” He declined to comment further.

Late Friday morning several agents wearing FBI jackets and vests were walking in and out of the front door and garage of Thomas’ two-story brick home in northeast Washington. Around 11:30 a.m. a tow-truck backed into Thomas’ driveway and FBI agents pulled a motorcycle out of his garage and secured it to the bed of the truck. One of his attorneys was also at the home.

Tim Day, a Republican who ran against Thomas and first alerted District authorities to irregularities with Thomas’ nonprofit, watched the search unfold and said he was pleased his complaint had led to a federal probe.

“Regardless of who you are, you can’t cheat taxpayers. You can’t cheat residents,” said Day, who is running for an at-large Council seat.

He repeated a previous call for Thomas to resign.

The money Thomas is accused of diverting was earmarked by the Council in 2007 for youth baseball programs. At Thomas’ direction, according to the lawsuit, much of that money was given as a grant to a nonprofit called the Langston 21st Century Foundation, which provides golf programs for youth. The foundation then paid most of the money to Team Thomas, a nonprofit established by the councilmember.

According to the lawsuit, Team Thomas did not spend the money on youth sports programs. Instead, the lawsuit said, it spent money on travel to Las Vegas, rounds of golf and mailings to Thomas’ constituents. Langston was also accused of diverting money to a for-profit company controlled by Thomas, which then paid for an Audi SUV that the councilmember used as his personal vehicle.

Federal authorities are also investigating the campaign activities of Mayor Vincent Gray and Council Chairman Kwame Brown. A minor mayoral candidate has accused Gray campaign staffers of giving him cash and promising him a job last year in exchange for negative comments about then-Mayor Adrian Fenty during campaign appearances. The mayor has denied wrongdoing. Brown, meanwhile, is under investigation for diverting about $200,000 in campaign funds to a firm controlled by his brother. He claims the money was used for legitimate campaign purposes.

The investigations have cast a cloud over district politics and led to low approval ratings for the mayor, who’s been in office since January. The Council is working on ethics reform legislation to address concerns from the public about rampant corruption.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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