In court filings Friday, prosecutors requested a 46-month sentence, while Thomas’s attorneys made a lengthy case for a more lenient 18-month sentence. The filings will be reviewed by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates before a sentencing hearing Thursday.
Sentencing guidelines recommend a sentence of 41 to 51 months, according to federal probation officials. Bates is free to depart from those guidelines.
U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. argued in his filing for a sentence toward the top end of that range.
As “Thomas secretly stole money earmarked for youth-enrichment programs, he publicly portrayed himself as a champion of underprivileged children,” Machen wrote. “His corrupt conduct tarnished the reputation of the [D.C. Council] and posed a serious distraction to the operations of the city government.”
Machen said that while some of the stolen funds went to the community, the bulk of the money was used to fund lavish trips and a luxury sport-utility vehicle.
“Put simply,” he wrote, “Thomas used public funds to live an extravagant lifestyle to the detriment of children in his Ward.”
In a letter to Bates, Thomas apologized and accepted “full responsibility” for his theft. “By violating the trust that people placed in me, I brought shame not only on myself, but on my family and my supporters,” Thomas, 51, wrote. “I could not have let them down more.”
He referenced his time as a sports coach in the letter: “As I have always said to those I have mentored: 1% or 100%, wrong is wrong. Clearly, what I did I was wrong.”
His letter is one of 92 his attorneys submitted to the court in support of his plea for leniency. They include missives from Thomas, his mother, his wife and several of his children.
“The pain has been deep and severe,” wrote his mother, Romaine Thomas. “This has caused a serious blow to our family pride, courage and values.”
She continued: “I continually ask myself the most stinging question. How did my son, who was reared in a Christian family from humble beginnings, become involved and entangled in a such an ill-fated situation?”
In court filings, Thomas’s attorneys ask Bates to “look at the full picture of Mr. Thomas’s life, not simply the snapshot capturing his crimes.”
“Mr. Thomas acknowledges that his crimes were an inexcusable breach of the public trust,” wrote the lawyers, Seth A. Rosenthal, Karl A. Racine and Gilead I. Light of the Venable firm. “Having pled guilty prior to indictment, he has fully accepted responsibility for his conduct and stands ready to accept the consequences.”
Machen’s memorandum also criticized Thomas, a Democrat, for involving two other men who have pleaded guilty to felonies connected to his scheme. Marshall Banks and James Garvin, directors of a nonprofit group Thomas used to divert the city funds, did not know Thomas “in any meaningful way” prior to joining in his scheme, Machen wrote.