D.C. Non-Profit Head Linked With HTJ Pleads Guilty

Admitted to concealing former council member's stealing

Friday, Jan 13, 2012  |  Updated 7:54 PM EDT
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The latest in the fallout following former Councilman Harry Thomas Jr.'s guilty plea.

Tom Sherwood

The latest in the fallout following former Councilman Harry Thomas Jr.'s guilty plea.

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The founder of a D.C. non-profit for kids admitted that he helped cover up the activities of disgraced former Council member Harry Thomas.

Marshall Banks, 71, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Friday to one count of misprision of a felony, relating to his efforts to conceal $392,000 in government funds.

U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen said Banks silence allowed Harry Thomas' to abuse his public office.

“Public corruption is allowed to flourish when ordinary citizens remain silent in the face of obvious wrongdoing,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “While Harry Thomas lined his pockets with money meant to benefit children, he was unable to do so alone. Marshall Banks stood by while Thomas stole the money and instead of reporting it, actively helped to conceal the fact that grant funds were being funneled back to Thomas. "

Prosecutors said Banks was the founder and director of the non-profit Langston in the 21st Century Foundation, also known as Langston 21.  The organization's purported mission was to operate youth activities, including youth programs at the Langston Golf Course.

As head of the non-profit, Banks received public funds earmarked for youth activities, and then wrote checks to Team Thomas, an organization controlled by Harry Thomas.

Prosecutors said that Banks became aware that the money he was sending to Thomas was not being spent on children, but chose not report Thomas to authorities.  According to prosecutors, even after he knew Thomas was spending the money on himself, he continued to write "youth sports" or "learning center" on the subject line.

There was no indication that Banks stole any of the money himself.

As part of the plea deal, Banks agreed to cooperate in further criminal investigations.  He also agreed to be jointly and severally liable to repay the misappropriated $392,000 in public funds.

He faces between six months and three years in prison. 

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