Former D.C. Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. sentenced to 3 years in prison
Former District of Columbia Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. stood in federal court on Thursday as U.S. District Judge John D. Bates imposed a three year and two month prison sentence. Thomas blamed “a sense of entitlement” for having used his former position as a D.C. councilmember to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars intended for youth programs. Explaining his actions for the first time, Thomas told the judge, “Somehow . . . I lost my moral compass. I went astray and lost my way.”
Judge Bates gave Thomas credit for a record of community service to young people, but said he had “plainly and significantly abused” his position of public trust. “You stole from the people who elected you, and you stole from the youth who could have benefited from those funds,” the judge said to Thomas. The former councilman’s 38 month sentence is less than the 46 months U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. had requested, but extensively more than the 18 months Thomas’ attorneys had argued for. The case is the most serious graft allegations ever leveled against an elected District official. The lengthy sentence also represents a major victory for federal prosecutors, who remain engaged in investigations of other D.C. officials, including Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown.