Rosenthal and Thomas leave the federal courthouse after Thomas’s January guilty plea. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Calling the claims made by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen and deputies an “unjustified caricature,” defense attorneys for the former D.C. Council member rejected the suggestion that Thomas involved himself in youth sports and other community service only out of his own self-interest.

In the filing, lawyers Seth A. Rosenthal, Karl A. Racine and Gilead I. Light argue that the 92 letters written on Thomas’s behalf by family, friends and others “conclusively demonstrate that Mr. Thomas has used sports, not as an end in themselves, but as a medium for mentoring and providing opportunities for children.”

”If Mr. Thomas were merely a ‘sports enthusiast’ and not a mentor, he would not be ‘Coach Tommy,’ the name by which so many people know him,” the lawyers wrote, referencing a sobriquet used in a dozen of the letters.

The memo goes on to note the Justice Department’s own efforts to promote youth mentoring. “This is exactly what Mr. Thomas has provided young people during his lifetime.” the filing notes.

It also directly challenges Machen’s contention that “Thomas’s day-to-day work as a Council member ... was just that: his job” — a contention meant to combat the notion pressed by Thomas’s lawyers that his community service ought to counsel against a harsh sentence.

Machen’s argument, the defense attorneys write, is a “straw man.”

“Mr. Thomas is not seeking consideration for getting resources to his constituents while he served on the Council,” they continue. “Mr. Thomas’ continuing, hands-on service to youth merits some consideration, and it certainly should not count against him,” the lawyers write.

Thomas will appear before U.S. District Judge John D. Bates Thursday to receive his sentence. Prosectors are requesting a 46-month prison sentence; Thomas is seeking 18 months.

The filing: