- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 7, 2011

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown said an announcement will be made Wednesday on whether Harry Thomas Jr. faces sanctions from his colleagues in light of a lawsuit that accuses him of funneling money for youth baseball programs to his own pocket.

Mr. Brown said no decision was made, voluntarily by Mr. Thomas or otherwise, in a closed-door meeting among council members on Tuesday afternoon.

A source close to the situation said council members took turns offering their thoughts to Mr. Thomas, with a large number of them suggesting he take a leave of absence as chairman of the Committee on Economic Development.

The delay in a public announcement was to give Mr. Thomas time to make decisions of his own, the source said.

A lawsuit filed by D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan on Monday says Mr. Thomas siphoned off more than $300,000 in funds earmarked by the council for youth sports programs and $80,000 in private donations to pay for personal travel and an Audi sport utility vehicle.

The complaint says he did this through a series of checks that were passed through multiple organizations to his nonprofit, Team Thomas, and by writing checks from the nonprofit to his business, HLT Development.

The government is seeking treble damages that amount to more than $1 million dollars, and the U.S. Attorney Office for the District confirmed it is investigating the matter.

Mr. Thomas and his attorney, Frederick D. Cooke Jr., say the allegations are unfounded.

Speculation of a closed-door meeting to address the matter mounted throughout the day at the John A. Wilson Building, while the council attended to usual business and a vote on the city’s redistricting plan.

Council members said they expected “movement” on Mr. Thomas’ situation during the day, although it was unclear if it would be a voluntary decision by the council member or action by his colleagues.

Shortly after the redistricting vote, Mr. Brown’s staff circulated a memo announcing a closed meeting to discuss a “personnel issue.”

Members of the press entered the room anyway, noting a vote had not been taken to bring the matter into closed session.

Mr. Brown and Mr. Thomas were absent from the room, but the chairman appeared and took a quick vote to close the meeting.

Surrounded by TV cameras, the council’s attorney said the vote sufficed, even though it was recorded in a small meeting room and not from the council chamber

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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