Former D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. has been sentenced to 38 months for stealing money that was meant to help fund youth programs.
Thomas was sentenced Thursday morning by U.S. District Judge John Bates.
“While I remain deeply disappointed and troubled by what happened, it’s clear that justice has been done and Mr. Thomas will be held responsible for his actions," Mayor Vincent Gray said.
He added, "This case is an important reminder that public officials must never forget for whom we work and that all public servants must be guardians of the public trust.”
Officially, Thomas has received 38 months for stealing federal grant money and 36 months for filing three years of false tax returns. However, these terms are to be served concurrently.
Back in December, the FBI raided Thomas’s home in northeast Washington, where it seized a motorcycle and an SUV. Thomas allegedly used the city’s money to fuel a lavish lifestyle, including expensive trips.
As News4 first reported, U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen urged the federal court to sentence Thomas to 46 months in prison.
Thomas’ attorney was asking for leniency with an 18-month sentence, but prosecutors had asked the judge to send a "strong and clear message" by imposing a 46-month sentence.
The guidelines for sentencing say Thomas could have received 41 to 51 months.
During Thursday's hearing, Judge Bates said Thomas stole from needy kids, but did have a history of good works that he can't ignore.
However, Bates also said that Thomas stole $446,000, not $350,000 as previously thought, reported News4's Tom Sherwood.
Thomas' elderly mother, Romaine, as well as a nephew spoke in court for Thomas prior to sentencing. His mother said she was "humbly and passionately" asking for mercy for her son. She said she lectured him about his wrongdoing and the shame he brought to the family.
The defense said a lifetime of good work with youth should be considered in the sentencing.
“Today’s sentencing is the final step in holding Mr. Thomas accountable to the people of the District," said D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown in a statement.
"There is no excuse for violating the trust of public office, and I know I join many in our community in expressing our continued sadness for his use of the office of Councilmember and the taxpayers of the District of Columbia for his personal gain," Brown said. "My prayers are with the entire Thomas family."
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