Foundation chief linked to Thomas faces charges

Feds say Banks concealed felony in connection with theft

A key figure in the corruption probe of former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. has been formally accused of failing to report that city funds were being stolen in 2008 and 2009.

Federal prosecutors on Thursday charged Marshall D. Banks, president of the Langston21st Century Foundation, with concealing a felony in connection with Mr. Thomas‘ scheme to steal $350,000 in funds earmarked for youth programs.

The charges were filed in a document called a criminal information, which usually means a guilty plea is imminent. Mr. Banks is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge John D. Bates on Friday, one week after the same judge accepted a guilty plea from Mr. Thomas for stealing city funds and failing to report additional income on his federal tax returns.

Mr. Thomas resigned his Ward 5 council seat and faces more than three years in prison at his May 3 sentencing. The charges also come one day after federal prosecutors accused a former Advisory Neighborhood Commission member from Ward 5 with stealing $30,000 in taxpayer funds.

Ron Machen, U.S. attorney for the District, had indicated that organizations and persons involved in Mr. Thomas‘ actions were still under investigation.

Mr. Banks’ purported ties in the scheme first came to light in a lawsuit filed by D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan in June. The suit said the Langston foundation, affiliated with a Ward 5 golf course, acted as a go-between for funds Mr. Thomas obtained from the Children & Youth Investment Trust Corp., a public-private partnership set up in 1999 to fund children’s programs.

Prosecutors referred to Langston in court papers as “Organization No. 2,” one of three reputed conduits that Mr. Thomas used to siphon CYITC funds his personal use.

Specifically, Mr. Thomas used his position to funnel $306,000 to either his for-profit company, HLT Development, or his nonprofit entity, Team Thomas, from the $392,000 in disbursements the CYITC doled out to Langston from January 2008 to January 2009, according to court papers.

An attorney for Mr. Banks could not be reached Thursday for comment.

The D.C. attorney general reached a settlement with Langston and its principals, Mr. Banks and James Garvin, for $86,000 in June. The figure represented the amount of earmarked funds retained by Langston.

On its website, the foundation describes itself as a nonprofit “designed to provide accessible and affordable modern sports and recreation, education programs to benefit the Washington, D.C., community.”

Earlier on Thursday, Mr. Nathan told the “Discuss D.C.” radio show on WPFW-FM that Langston played an instrumental role in explaining why the bank accounts of Mr. Thomas‘ for-profit and nonprofit entities did not match the amount of cash provided by donors. He also said his office will continue to support the U.S. attorney’s investigation.

“By no means have we closed down what we’re looking at in the days ahead,” he said.

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