- The Washington Times - Monday, November 4, 2013

Disgraced former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. made a trip back to the District recently — but why the imprisoned lawmaker was in town is something of a mystery.

Thomas, who pleaded guilty last year to stealing more than $350,000 in funds earmarked for youth sports programs, was turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service on Oct. 7 in response to a court order requesting his presence, Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said.

An attorney for Thomas said Monday that Thomas had been in the District but that he was on his way back to the Alabama penitentiary where he is serving his three-year prison sentence.

“I don’t have any comment on why he was here,” attorney Seth A. Rosenthal said.

Likewise, prosecutors and the U.S. Marshals Service were mum on the details.

A source close to a wide-ranging investigation into public corruption in the District said Thomas was brought to the U.S. attorney’s office Friday shackled and in a prison jumpsuit.

“I can’t confirm anything about it,” said William Miller, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, which prosecuted Thomas.

Thomas began serving his 38-month prison sentence at the Federal Prison Camp in Montgomery, Ala., in June. The Bureau of Prisons’ inmate locator Monday listed the 53-year-old, whose birthday was Saturday, as “in transit.”

It’s unclear how long Thomas was in the District or where he was housed during his stay.

“A status of ‘in transit’ means that the inmate is being moved for any number of reasons,” U.S. Marshals spokeswoman Lynzey Donahue wrote in an email response to questions. “While the prisoner is in this status, for security reasons, the U.S. Marshals Service does not disclose location.”

No public filings have been made in Thomas’ theft case since June, so it was also unclear whether his trip to the District involved his own case or other matters. It could not be determined whether it was the first time Thomas had been returned to the District. Federal investigations into public corruption and campaign finance violations at city hall are ongoing.

Thomas, who had represented Ward 5 on the D.C. Council since being elected in 2006, resigned from his seat in January 2012.

Prosecutors said he used his position to take the funds earmarked for youth sports through the Children’s Youth Investment Trust Corp. from 2007 to 2009.

At sentencing, federal officials described how Thomas funneled public funds through three organizations to fund a lavish lifestyle that included $19,000 for travel, $7,000 for clothes, $5,000 for meals, $23,745 for a Victory motorcycle and $58,575 toward an Audi sport utility vehicle.

Five others, including Thomas’ former chief of staff Ayawna Webster, have also pleaded guilty for their roles in the misuse of public funds. Three of those, including Webster and Millicent West, the former head of the D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust, have yet to be sentenced.

Thomas is due for release in March 2015.

Jeffrey Anderson contributed to this report.

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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