A federal probe into whether D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. redirected funds intended for youth sports programs has expanded to include $832,000 in public grants intended for community and gang-intervention initiatives, a neighborhood newspaper is reporting.
Even as the D.C. Council passes historic legislation intended to guide ethical behavior in the District, new reports and court papers suggest the legal troubles dogging Mr. Thomas, Ward 5 Democrat, are not going away.
A report in the Brookland Heartbeat says authorities are looking into a pair of grants issued in 2008 by the Department of Parks and Recreation — a $272,000 earmark for gang-intervention and one for $560,000 through the Children’s Youth Investment Trust Corporation for Mr. Thomas’s “Ward 5 Initiative.”
Officials at the city agency said there is no documentation to prove how the money was spent, according to the newspaper.
Mr. Thomas’ attorney, Frederick Cooke, declined to comment on the new report on Wednesday.
Earlier this year, Mr. Thomas settled a lawsuit brought by the D.C. attorney general that claims the council member siphoned off $300,000 in funds — earmarked for youth sports through the CYITC — for his personal use.
The investigation accelerated on Dec. 2, when federal agents raided Mr. Thomas’ home and seized his sport utility vehicle and motorcycle.
The Legal Times reported that Mr. Thomas is also trying to seal records tied to an agreement he struck with the federal government to pay outstanding debt from his student loans.
Mr. Cooke noted in court papers that Mr. Thomas “is currently the subject of several unrelated inquiries by federal and District agencies.”
“The disclosure of the terms of the consent judgment will only contribute to further public speculation about the Defendant, and will serve to further damage his public image,” Mr. Cooke’s motion says.
The government countered that Mr. Thomas “offers little more than the argument that sealing the Consent Judgment will be convenient for him given the other, unrelated, legal challenges he faces.”
Mr. Thomas could have avoided public proceedings “by simply paying the debt,” U.S. attorneys said.
Prosecutors said the public has the right to know how the federal government implements its student lending programs, since taxpayer dollars are used to guarantee the loans.
Mr. Thomas’ role as a public figure, if anything, should argue in favor of disclosure, they said.