Harry Thomas agrees to repay $17K student loan debt

D.C. Council member Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5) has agreed to repay the federal government more than $17,000 stemming from student loan debt, according to court papers made public Tuesday.

The amount was revealed in a consent judgment that stated Thomas has agreed to make monthly payments of $494.96 to pay off the debt, which he incurred in the 1980s. The Justice Department filed suit in 2006 seeking repayment of the loans. The agreement said Thomas owed $5,345.20 in principal on two student loans, $7,881.14 in interest and $4,051.22 in legal fees incurred by the Justice Department. The total tab owed by Thomas is $17,277.56, the court papers said.

At the monthly rate of $494.96, it will take Thomas nearly three years to repay the debt. In court filings, the Justice Department had indicated it was initially seeking nearly $20,000.

During a court hearing on Dec. 14 in the District’s federal court, the fact that Thomas had reached an agreement with the government became public. However, the council member’s attorney, Frederick D. Cooke Jr., tried to have the actual agreement — and its details — placed under seal, a request that was rejected by U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson.

The judgment comes just weeks after federal agents raided Thomas’ home in Northeast Washington in connection with an investigation into how he allegedly used his position on the council to divert more than $300,000 in public funds intended for youth sport programs to groups he headed.

In June, D.C. Attorney General Irv Nathan alleged in a lawsuit filed against the council member that the money was used to purchase an Audi SUV and take trips to Las Vegas and Pebble Beach, Calif. Thomas agreed to repay the District without interest or penalties to settle the lawsuit.

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