POLITICS

Harry Thomas pleads guilty to theft, filing false tax returns

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Former D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. has officially pleaded guilty  Friday to stealing more than $350,000 from the District of Columbia and filing false tax returns.

Harry Thomas speaking at a press conference. (Photo: Bruce DePuyt)

Thomas said he resigned his seat on the council Thursday night as part of the plea.

With his wife Diane at his side, Thomas read a statement to reporters outside the courthouse.

"Today I want to apologize to those I've let down including my constituents, neighbors, friends in Ward 5, residents of this city, the mayor my fellow council members," he says.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 3.

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"Today Mr. Thomas took responsibility for outrageous conduct that can only be described as a flagrant abuse of the public trust," said U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen. "Time and time again, he used for personal gain taxpayer dollars that were intended to benefit this city's most important resource - its children. As a city and a community, we are now one step closer to putting this dark chapter in D.C. politics behind us."

He was charged Thursday after days of plea negotiations between prosecutors and his lawyers. He's accused of stealing funds that had been earmarked for youth sports programs.

The tax return charge accuses Thomas of failing to report $356,000 in income between 2007 and 2009.

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The allegations were brought to light in a lawsuit filed in June by the district's attorney general.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and several of Thomas' council colleagues called for him to step down.

"Elected officials who violate the public trust for their own benefit strike at the very heart of our democratic system," said Special Agent in Charge Ronald Hosko, of the FBI.

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