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“What we’re looking at is a process that was seriously flawed at least insofar as these particular grants,” said council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat who currently oversees the trust.

Council member Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat who has encountered legal troubles of his own, asked his colleagues to remember the toll the plea has taken on Mr. Thomas‘ family ahead of sentencing.

And council member Vincent B. Orange, at-large Democrat and the only elected official to attend the plea hearing, said the council should not act on Ward 5 matters without talking advice from its residents.

“No one wants to short change Ward 5,” Mr. Brown said.

The ward will have to wait a few months before it has a new council member. Under D.C. law, a special election is scheduled  on the first Tuesday after more than 114 days from when the Board of Elections and Ethics declares a vacancy.

The issue would go before Ward 5 voters on May 15, although Mr. Brown said he will see if there is any way to save money by making the special election coincide with the District’s April 3 primary.

The five members of Mr. Thomas‘ personal staff lost their jobs with the council member’s departure. A former Thomas staffer who has been named in connection with the investigation was terminated on Friday from his job with the Committee of the Whole, according to Mr. Brown.

Mr. Thomas‘ mounting legal troubles had been a major distraction to the council throughout 2011, a year with criticism of Mr. Gray’s hiring practices and a federal investigation into whether his associates paid a minor mayoral candidate to bash then-Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on the campaign trail.

The U.S. attorney’s office is also investigating whether the 2008 re-election committee for Mr. Brown engaged in financial irregularities that amount to criminal activity.

“Am I worried I’m next?” Mr. Brown said Friday. “No.”