- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 5, 2012

Embattled D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. on Thursday evening resigned from office and said he will plead guilty on Friday to two federal charges of stealing more than $350,000 in taxpayer funds and failing to report income on his tax returns.

“I made some very serious mistakes and exhibited inadequate and flawed judgment,” Mr. Thomas said in a statement released by his attorneys. “I take full responsibility for my actions. I am truly sorry.”

Mr. Thomas said he had made “some very poor decisions” and apologized to his family, his constituents and his colleagues.

“I was wrong,” he said.

The resignation will become official when it is transmitted to the council secretary on Friday. Earlier Thursday evening, Mr. Thomas told The Washington Times of his plans.

“I am resigning in the morning,” he said, adding that he was in an ongoing meeting with his attorneys.

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown noted that Mr. Thomas “took full responsibility for his actions” and has apologized to the residents of the District and of Ward 5, which Mr. Thomas represented. The chairman will hold a news conference on Friday to explain how the council plans to proceed without Mr. Thomas.

“It’s time to start the healing process and allow his family the privacy and opportunity to move forward,” Mr. Brown said.

Mr. Thomas‘ resignation came after federal prosecutors on Thursday filed documents in U.S. District Court for the District accusing Mr. Thomas, a Democrat, of stealing $353,000 from youth baseball programs from April 2007 to February 2009 and failing to report a total of $346,000 in additional income on three successive tax returns. It was the first time a sitting council member has been charged with a felony.

Mr. Thomas, 51, is scheduled to appear before District Judge John D. Bates at the federal courthouse on Friday morning.

The criminal charges prompted a wave of reaction on Thursday from top city officials who had withheld judgment on the matter. For the first time, Mayor Vincent C. Gray called on Mr. Thomas to resign and focus on defending himself in court.

“While everyone is assumed innocent till proven otherwise, those who violate the public’s trust must be held accountable for their actions,” he said.

Mr. Gray’s spokesman, Pedro Ribeiro, said the mayor did not speak to Mr. Thomas before issuing his statement.

Mr. Brown also called on Mr. Thomas to resign earlier in the day and said he was speaking to council members about the situation and how to make sure Ward 5 was adequately represented.

The guilty plea will close a chapter that has hung over City Hall for more than a year, starting with accusations about Mr. Thomas‘ nonprofit organization, Team Thomas, that were lobbed at him by Republican opponent Tim Day before his re-election in 2010.

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