Friday, May 4, 2012

This Charity Fraud Is Over...Maybe

by Gary Snyder

Former District of Columbia councilmember Harry L. Thomas Jr. was sentenced to 3 years and 2 months in prison for stealing more than $350,000 in government funds, actions the judge condemned as a "betrayal of trust." 

Thomas was first elected in 2006 and his thefts began within months. Between 2007 and 2009, while serving on the council, Thomas embezzled $353,500 from a public-private partnership that received taxpayer dollars. Most of the money came from a $400,000 earmark Thomas had secured on the council to support youth sports initiatives.

Prosecutors cited the luxuries that Thomas' embezzlement afforded him as justification for a stiff sentence: a $70,000 Audi sport-utility vehicle, a $24,000 Victory motorcycle and three pairs of shoes that cost $1,374, among other items. As part of the sentence, the Judge ordered Thomas to forfeit the motorcycle and a 2008 Chevy Tahoe, both of which could be directly traced to the embezzled funds.

Two other individuals, James Garvin and Marshall D. Banks, also pleaded guilty to helping Thomas cover up the embezzlement and are awaiting sentencing.

There is more: The Judge is considering an additional $92,500 that was diverted at Thomas' direction from a city drug program to pay for a presidential inaugural ball in 2009.

His sentencing comes amid ongoing federal investigations into the use of funds in the political campaigns of D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Council Chairman Kwame Brown.

Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, B, USA Today Topics, ,, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times...and many more • Nonprofits: On the Brink (iUniverse, 2006)
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