- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The D.C. Council’s first legislative session of 2012 was overshadowed Wednesday by the conspicuous absence of Harry Thomas Jr., whose empty seat on the dais fueled speculation of an imminent plea deal on accusations that he spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on himself.

A late-night report that Mr. Thomas, a Democrat, planned to step down sent reporters scurrying around the John A. Wilson Building on Wednesday ahead of the morning’s legislative session.

Television crews cornered his colleagues to get their thoughts on the situation and find out whether Mr. Thomas planned to show up to weigh in on various measures before the council. But the District’s top elected officials said they know of no plans for Mr. Thomas to resign or of any deal with federal prosecutors.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray said he has not spoken with Mr. Thomas since before Christmas and does not know “what his thinking is at this stage.”

“This whole thing is just an enigma to me,” Mr. Gray said of Mr. Thomas‘ troubles. “It’s just an absolute puzzle.”

Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown said he last spoke with Mr. Thomas several days ago and received no indication that he would resign.

“I have not heard anything at all,” he said.

Mr. Thomas has faced increasing scrutiny since he agreed to pay the District $300,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan last summer that accused him of bilking funds earmarked for youth baseball to buy a luxury sport utility vehicle and pay for trips, among other personal expenses.

Federal agents raided his home Dec. 2 and seized an SUV and a motorcycle, the first tangible sign that a criminal probe against him may be ramping up.

Mr. Thomas did not show up for the council’s legislative meeting in the wake of a report by WUSA-TV (Channel 9) that said he is expected to resign from the council and finalize a plea deal with federal prosecutors that calls for prison time.

The report attributed the information to “close associates” of the council member.

Mr. Thomas‘ attorney, Frederick D. Cooke Jr., did not respond to a request for comment on the report.

Before the legislative meeting, Mr. Brown said he did not know whether Mr. Thomas would report to the John A. Wilson Building on Wednesday.

“I always expect him to come to work,” he said. “He may or may not be here, I don’t know.”

Mr. Thomas is not up for re-election until 2014. He won re-election in 2010 with 62 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary and 84 percent in November’s general election.

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