- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 8, 2011

D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown is expected to announce this afternoon whether fellow member Harry Thomas Jr. faces sanctions, voluntarily or otherwise, after a lawsuit filed this week accused him of siphoning off public funds for personal use.

The main question facing Mr. Thomas, Ward 5 Democrat, is whether he will step aside as chairman of the Committee on Economic Development.

If Mr. Thomas does not step aside, the full council may vote to do it for him, a significant form of censure with recent precedent at the John A. Wilson Building.

Mr. Brown is expected to make his announcement at about 3 p.m. or later in the afternoon.

The civil complaint filed by D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan on Monday says Mr. Thomas bilked 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.

Council members met in closed session on Tuesday to share their thoughts with Mr. Thomas, with many of them urging him to take leave from his committee, according to a source familiar with the proceedings.



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