A Ward 5 advisory neighborhood commissioner who stole nearly $30,000 in city funds has been sentenced to 30 days in jail.
William C. Shelton, 42, pleaded guilty in January to a felony fraud charge related to his embezzlement of $28,526 in ANC funds. He used an ANC debit card for 120 personal transactions, including car expenses and shopping at Bloomingdale’s and Target.
U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell sentenced Shelton Friday to a 30-day jail term and a subsequent 150 days of home confinement and 24 months of probation. During his probation, Shelton cannot seek credit or take a job where he has access to his employer’s finances without the authorization of probation officers.
Shelton will be serving his sentence on weekends, according his attorney, Troy W. Poole.
The sentencing prompted tough talk from the city’s top federal law enforcement officials. In a statement, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. called Shelton a “serial embezzler.”
“Other public officials who are thinking of exploiting their positions of trust should take a hard look at Mr. Shelton’s conviction and sentence,” he said.
Machen had sought a six-month sentence and three years of probation, according to a sentencing memorandum filed with the court.
Included in Machen’s sentencing memorandum was a statement from a resident in Shelton’s ANC, who told Howell that Shelton’s crimes “left my community feeling outraged and disgusted.”
“It is hard enough to fight criminals that commit crimes in our neighborhood without worrying about one of our elected representatives stealing our money,” said the resident, who was not named in court papers.
Shelton has settled a civil lawsuit with the city seeking repayment of the stolen money; he has so far paid the city $5,600, according to a sentencing memorandum prepared by Poole.
“Mr. Shelton has consistently expressed shame and remorse for his offense and has tried to atone as best as he can,” Poole wrote. He also said in court papers that Shelton has been diagnosed with a mental condition, hypomania bipolar disorder, that “was a factor in his actions.”
No incarceration was necessary, he argued, noting that “humiliation in the media, the forced resignation of his ANC chairmanship, having a felony conviction which greatly curtails his employment opportunities and the prospect of incarceration should he violate any conditions set by the Court should deter Mr. Shelton from further misconduct.”
In an interview, Poole said Shelton “is pleased with and accepts the sentence” imposed by Howell. “He understood that his actions have consequences and he has taken full responsibility for those actions,” Poole added.
Former D.C. Council member and fellow Ward 5 resident Harry Thomas Jr. — who pleaded guilty in January to stealing public funds — is set to be sentenced Thursday.
Thomas, who stole more than $350,000, faces 37 to 46 months in prison under federal guidelines.