- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday charged a second person accused of serving as a pass-through for public funds that former council member Harry Thomas Jr. stole for his personal use.

James Garvin, a principal at the Langston 21st Century Foundation, was charged with concealing a felony. The charges were filed at U.S. District Court in a criminal information, a document that typically signals a plea deal has been reached.

Marshall D. Banks, director of the Langston foundation, pleaded guilty to the same charge on Friday and faces up to three years in prison.

Mr. Banks’ plea before Judge John D. Bates came one week after Thomas formally admitted — in the same courtroom — that he stole more than $350,000 in funds earmarked for youth programs and filed false tax returns.

Mr. Garvin, who runs the Ward 5 golf course affiliated with the Langston nonprofit, is slated to follow in their footsteps at a hearing on Wednesday morning. The charges did not come as a surprise, because Mr. Banks’ plea was contingent upon Mr. Garvin’s plea.

Vandy Jamison, the attorney for both men, had signaled last week that Mr. Garvin would be pleading guilty.

Charging papers against Banks said the Langston foundation agreed to act as a nonprofit recipient of public funds, part of which Thomas wanted for activities in Ward 5.

The Children & Youth Investment Trust Corp. granted $392,000 in city funds to Langston for youth programs, yet Thomas‘ nonprofit and for-profit entities were never mentioned in the grant agreement, court papers said.

Prosecutors said Langston paid Thomas‘ groups a total of $306,000 out of quarterly payments from the trust and its principals should have known the grant funds were not being spent on city youth.

The Langston foundation’s ties to Thomas‘ scheme first came to light in a lawsuit filed by D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan in June.

Mr. Nathan’s office reached a settlement with Banks and Mr. Garvin for $86,000, the amount of earmarked funds retained by Langston.

Mr. Thomas, who resigned from his Ward 5 council seat before pleading guilty, faces more than three years in prison at his May 3 sentencing.

On Tuesday, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics scheduled the special election to fill his vacant seat for May 15. The election will cost $318,000, according to the board.

Thomas‘ actions and allegations levied at other elected officials prompted the council to pass sweeping ethics reform in December. Two measures in the bill — a process that allows council members to expel one of their colleagues and a provision that disqualifies elected officials if they are convicted of a felony while in office — require changes to the D.C. charter.

The elections board plans to let city voters weigh in on those measures through the general election ballot on Nov. 6.