Nonprofit linked to ex-D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. fires president

The government-funded nonprofit group that former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr. used to funnel taxpayer funds into his pocket Wednesday ousted its top executive.

The board of the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp. voted to fire Ellen London, its president and chief executive who had headed the group since 2010.

Board chairwoman Winifred Carson Smith confirmed the action but declined to discuss the decision.

London became the focus of attention in February, when e-mails emerged showing that she had participated in internal discussions with Thomas aides about payments that the trust made to nonprofit groups.

Thomas, who resigned in January shortly before pleading guilty to federal theft and tax charges, admitted in court that those groups later kicked back most of the money to him and filed fraudulent paperwork to cover their tracks.

There is no evidence officials with the trust knew of the payments, but the e-mails showed that rules were bent in order to get the Thomas-affiliated groups paid.

Bill Treanor, a veteran youth advocate and the board’s treasurer, said the decision to fire London was due to a “combination of things,” adding that “we’ve really been under the gun.”

London declined to comment Wednesday evening about her firing. She had appeared earlier in the day before a D.C. Council committee reviewing the trust’s fiscal 2013 budget. Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who led the hearing as chairman of the Human Services Committee, said he had questions for the board about the termination and would include it in a coming report on the trust’s oversight of grant funds.

Mary A. Terrell, a retired D.C. Superior Court judge, will take over the group’s leadership temporarily, Treanor said.

Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced May 3.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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