A plea hearing in the case has been scheduled for Friday morning before U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, and in his statement, the Ward 5 Democrat said he would plead guilty to two federal crimes.
Thomas is the first member of the D.C. Council to resign under duress since the District’s home rule government was first seated, in 1975.
Neither Thomas nor his attorneys would comment further Thursday. William Miller, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., declined to comment on the court filing.
Thomas, the 51-year-old son of a former Ward 5 council member, is alleged to have steered the money, intended for youth sports programs, through intermediaries to pay for personal expenses that included an Audi sport-utility vehicle and golf trips.
The probe has its roots in suspicions first leveled during Thomas’s 2010 reelection campaign by his Republican opponent about his fundraising for a nonprofit group he founded. The District’s attorney general at the time, Peter Nickles, initiated a probe of the charity, called Team Thomas. Nickles’s successor, Irvin B. Nathan, first outlined the graft allegations in a civil suit in June; he referred the case to the U.S. attorney’s office for criminal charges.
At the time, Thomas indicated that he had done nothing wrong. “There is no settlement that I would make that would imply that there was some wrongdoing on my part,” Thomas said the day Nathan filed his lawsuit. But about six weeks later, Thomas agreed to a settlement requiring him to repay the city $300,000. He again denied any malfeasance, saying that he settled “to ensure that the trust the public has placed in me is maintained and honored.”
Yet it became clear in recent months that federal authorities were aggressively pursuing Thomas. FBI and IRS agents raided Thomas’s home last month and seized several personal items, including an SUV.
The federal probe came after editorials in The Washington Post on spending practices involving the council member and Team Thomas.
On Thursday, prosecutors filed a four-page charging document that alleges Thomas embezzled $353,500 between April 2007 and February 2009. He is also accused of filing false tax returns in 2007, 2008 and 2009. The charging papers allege that he underreported his income in those years by a total of $346,000. Prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of a 2008 motorcycle and a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe connected with the case, according to the charging papers.
The federal charges came in a “criminal information,” a type of charging document that can only be filed with the defendant’s consent and generally signals that a plea deal has been reached.