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Former DC Councilman Harry Thomas, Jr., Pleads Guilty To Federal Charges; Resigned Earlier This Week

11:47 PM, Jan 6, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Former D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. pleaded guilty in federal court on Friday morning. 

Thomas was accused of stealing more than $350,000 in government funds and filing false tax returns for three years. He is also accused of using the money for his own personal gain, such as lavish vacations, fancy cars and a motorcycle.

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VIEW THE Thomas Charging DOCUMENTS HERE 

9News Now's Bruce Johnson reports that Thomas admitted, in a clear voice, to the judge Friday morning that he was guilty of the charges against him.

Johnson says that for the first time in court, the word "kickbacks" was heard in reference to the scheme. Thomas said that he received kickbacks from people who worked in two entities (or firms) that he set up, including the non-profit "Team Harry" and a private development firm he headed. In court, details were heard about how federal money coming through the city went to the two entities which was kicked back to Thomas.

Thomas admitted that some of the money went towards purchasing a luxury Audi SUV in 2008. In court, it was revealed that he received $50,000 from one of the entities for the vehicle and that he used his credit card to pay for the rest of the cost.

Bruce Johnson reports that Thomas also admitted to using money for a motorcycle and other expensive items but that was not detailed in court.

We also know that Thomas reported $25,000 on income taxes in 2007, $278,000 in 2008 and $43,000 in $2009.

His sentencing is set for May 5 at 9:30 a.m. In court, a judge said that Thomas could face between 37 and 46 months in jail if he is convicted. The judge does not have to adhere to that range.

Thomas will have a pre-sentence hearing and will report to the probation department. That department will investigate and report to the judge.

It is unclear what the conditions of his release will be at this point.

Harry Thomas stepped out of court holding his wife's hand, and made a brief statement to the media, but did not answer questions. 

Thomas resigned from his Ward 5 council seat Thursday night. 

In an e-mailed statement Thursday night, Thomas said that his resignation was effective immediately and that he would plead guilty Friday morning to two federal crimes.

Read his full statement here.

Reaction to Thomas's resignation includes Bruce Johnson's accompanying videotaped interview with DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown.

A special election will be held to fill Thomas' council seat.

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