Report: Thomas Jr. had help in theft of city funds

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Local,DC,Liz Farmer

Former D.C. Councilman Harry Thomas Jr. likely had help within a quasi-city agency that he used to funnel money meant for kids back to himself, a D.C. Council report shows.

The agency, the Children and Youth Investment Trust, seemed to treat the nonprofits connected to Thomas with much more leniency, allowing them to skirt reporting requirements, the report by Councilman Jim Graham says.

"In the very same month that the Trust excused Langtson [21] from reporting and documentation, we found examples of the Trust delaying — and threatening to deny — final payments to other grantees until compliance occurred," the report released Friday said. The document's findings were first made public by The Washington Post.

According to prosecutors, Thomas earmarked $400,000 from the Trust for Langston 21 for youth baseball summer camps. The nonprofit's officials then wrote checks — totaling $353,000 — back to nonprofits associated with Thomas. The former Ward 5 councilman then used that money for vacations, new cars and other personal items.

Thomas and Langston 21 officials pleaded guilty to the theft in January. In their plea, Langston executives admitted to skirting financial reporting requirements and allowing false reports to be filed.

The report goes on to note that these apparent exemptions were brought to the attention of then-CEO Millicent Williams in June 2008, but she "ignored or dismissed staff concerns and proceeded with the payment."

Williams, now Millicent W. West, stepped down from her post as D.C. director of homeland security and emergency management in late January, a position she took after leaving the trust in 2009.

Graham said the Health and Human Services Committee is "puzzled" why Langston was granted unusual treatment.

"Did Ms. Williams do this of her own volition or was she encouraged to do this by others? And if so, who?" the report said.

The committee is scheduled to vote this afternoon on whether it will request subpoena power to root out anyone who might have helped Thomas.

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