One week from tomorrow, former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. will be sentenced on felony charges connected to his admitted theft of more than $350,000 in District government funds.
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Thomas can expect to spend 37 to 46 months in prison. And in the coming days, prosecutors and defense attorneys will respectively argue in court filings whether Thomas should get relatively severe or relatively lenient treatment from U.S. District Judge John D. Bates.
Others might weigh in as well, and in a letter delivered to Bates today, Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan highlights several aggravating aspects of Thomas’s crimes — that the total loss to the District connected to Thomas’s crimes approaches $450,000; that his resignation cost the city an additional $318,000 to hold a special election to replace him; and that Thomas has failed to keep up with the restitution payments he agreed to make to the city last summer.
Nathan acknowledges that some of the funds that Thomas diverted to his nonprofit were used for community-minded purposes — he notes $3,000 for a D.C. Boys Choir trip to Beijing, and $6,575 for Dunbar High School varsity jackets. Nathan also took note of “extensive volunteer service benefiting youth in our city over the years” and his “good deeds” as a council member.
“But there is no gainsaying the breach of public trust that Mr. Thomas’s illegal conduct represents,” concludes Nathan, whose office conducted the initial probe of Thomas’s nonprofit which eventually led to the federal investigation and prosecution.
Nathan continues: “Mr. Thomas engaged in an abuse of power that has shocked and saddened the people of the District of Columbia. His conduct has contributed to an erosion of confidence in the many honest, hardworking and dedicated local government officials, who are working daily to address the community’s most pressing problems. This collective loss cannot be measured simply by the dollar value of misappropriated funds or the cost of a special election.”
In the letter, Nathan tells Bates he is not suggesting a particular sentence but “believe[s] this information to be relevant to your impending sentencing decision in this case.”
The letter in full: