What the Vehicle Seizures Might Mean
At the risk of overstating the obvious: Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. appears fucked.
This morning FBI agents and special agents from the IRS's Criminal Investigation Division raided his home, took a few trash bags worth of evidence, and towed his Chevy Tahoe and a motorcycle.
D.C. DMV records show that Thomas registered the 2008 Tahoe on Aug. 13 of this year, at a listed price of $39,390. (LL looked up the Blue Book value, which suggest the vehicle is worth several thousand dollars less.) Thomas' motorcycle is a 2008 Victory Ness that city records show he registered on Halloween in 2008 and cost him $23,699. It stands to reason, though LL doesn't know for sure, that Thomas got the Tahoe after trading in the Audi he allegedly bought with ill-gotten city money.
So why take Thomas' rides? LL checked in with former U.S. Attorney for the District Joe DiGenova for an idea. DiGenova says the feds may have seized Thomas' vehicles not only because they are potential evidence of criminal wrongdoing ("You never know what you're going to find when you have several days to search a car," says DiGenova), but also to help Thomas realize he's now in a world of hurt. In order to seize the Tahoe and the Victory, DiGenova says, federal agents would have had to convince a judge there's enough probable cause that the rides are linked to a crime, or are the "fruits" of a crime. That means that agents would have already compiled a lengthy paper trail of bank records, car payments, and more.
"This is a signal to him and his attorney that they might want to come in and chat," DiGenova says.
Given the mountain of damning evidence against Thomas that already exists on the public record, thanks to the D.C. attorney general's civil lawsuit filed this summer, it's not surprising that the feds would want to send Thomas that kind of signal. But it's also a clear indication to the public, which we did not get until this morning, that federal law enforcement authorities are taking this case very, very seriously.
Video by Mike Madden