D.C. Seeks Damages from Nonprofit Accused of Misspending

The District of Columbia said that a nonprofit run by Ward 5 Council member Harry Thomas Jr. misspent public funding, and now it wants him to pay the cash back plus damages.

D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court against Thomas, seeking $1 million.  In the Attorney General's complaint, Thomas has been accused of taking city money meant for "youth baseball programs" - $300,000 - and buying things for himself, including golf outings, trips to Las Vegas, and a $58,000 Audio Quattro Premium sport utility vehicle.

"We cannot tolerate the diversion of any of our scarce District resources," A.G. Irvin Natha said, "particularly by those who would use their positions of trust and influence to obtain these funds for personal gain."

Thomas arrived at a Monday afternoon press conference driving the Audi in question. He insisted he paid for it with his own money.

The Council member founded Team Thomas in 2000, purportedly to administer programs for the community like holiday food distribution and sports clinics for kids.

But critics said that Thomas had been accepting donations to his non-profit from corporations that did business with the city, at the same time that he was serving in office.  An investigation into the non-profit has been ongoing since the Fenty administration.

The lawsuit also said that Thomas raised $80,000 from private donors that has not been accounted for. 

Frederick Cooke, attorney for the accused Council member, said he has "significant fact disagreements" with the city's suit.

Attorney General Nathan has recommended that the investigation be handed over to the U.S. Attorney's office for a criminal investigation.

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