Loose Lips

FBI Interviewed Children’s Trust’s Former Director

Millicent West says she was interviewed several months ago by FBI agents about Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. and the Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation.

West was CEO of the CYITC during part of the time Thomas was allegedly using the organization to funnel city money to himself. West notes that 1) she joined CYITC after it had already started awarding grant money that's linked to Thomas and 2) unlike most of the competitively bid grants the group awards, the D.C. Council legislated that the $400,000 go to the group of Thomas' choosing. "Our organization just served as a pass-through," says West. According to the D.C. attorney general's civil suit, the council earmarked $400,000 of funds from the CYITC to go to only for "youth baseball programs." Thomas then told CYITC officials where to direct the grant.

West, who now heads the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, says the FBI didn't just focus on the CYITC money that allegedly found its way to Thomas. She says they also asked about "several" other recipients of CYITC funding that have no obvious link to Thomas. (Flashback: When then-Chairman Vince Gray banned earmarks, Thomas used the CYITC to get around the ban.)

And, by the way, West says she hasn't hired a lawyer and doesn't feel like she's done anything to need one.

  • NE John

    get a lawyer

  • NE John

    massacre coming

  • Sally

    From giving away grant money to local politicians to heading up the DC Homeland Security Department?

    Amazing how one gets promoted in this city.

  • Jane

    I love a well-funded charity program, but did nobody wonder what kind of "youth baseball programs" needed $400,000? That just seems like an incredible amount of money for such a niche subject. $40,000 seems like more than enough. I'm not a politician, but if somebody said they wanted $400,000 for "youth baseball programs only" I'd probably be dialing the ethics tipline.

  • rip off the rich

    Harry, just think of the fun! Marion,you,Kwame, and Jim can play ball in the jailhouse courtyard! the only question is who'll be pitcher and who'll be catcher :)

  • Amaxophobia

    I have followed this story for a very long time. And as usual, we are pretty much entertained by drama. Before anyone says anything about our public safety folks, MPD, HSEMA, FEMS etc etc.. you should understand what EARMARKS are. Earmarks are legislatively controlled and there is no competitive bidding process. This means that if the council uses xyz organization to direct funds, then that's what they'll do and guess what.. it's legal. That's how it works. EVERY government does it and there's NO review process. Local Government does it.. federal government does it all the way up to the WH and if in this case, if CYITC would NOT of done it, THEY would have broken the law. I don't agree with everything the Gov does and surely there should be some folks booted but as a long time resident, things go up.. things go down. That's just how it's been. Concerning West, perhaps phone calls were made at that time but even the Mayor probably couldn't intervene because the Trust is or was not a government agency. Face it, the council pretty much does what they want... anyone opposes or raises flags gets canned. That doesn't sound like a fair system to me.

    Also public record shows that the 400K was for more than just youth baseball programs... that's only what is discussed in the media. As I understand, there was a year timeline associated with the programming that included not only equipment and event rentals but also salaries for the youth educators. 40K is NOTHING for an organized youth league over a few years. So the next time you want someone to keep kids busy and we complain about how much it costs... maybe we shouldn't keep those kids busy and let them break into houses... or maybe your car like here in ward 8. This city needs to do a better job of providing opportunities that allow youth to express themselves and occupy their time. It's folks like the CM Thomas that makes everyone look bad when you aren't flying straight. Maybe he bought a truck with the money, maybe he didn't... what was the truck used for? Did the programming actually occur? Those are some of the questions I am asking.. who else benefited? About West not needing a lawyer.. sounds to me like she was doing what she was told to do by the council... "all of the council". Public record show HJT wasn't the ONLY CM to run grants through CYITC and I bet you they are still doing it.. but its still all in a LEGAL capacity (EARMARK). And as much as this makes for a good story... what Thomas would probably receive is a slap on the wrist for bad bookkeeping and misappropriate of funds perhaps if they can make it stick. Normally organizations have an "open-book" policy and welcome public scrutiny... when this guy couldn't provide basic books to the public, that's when there is an issue. Guess we'll see how all this plays out.

    I also remember the West confirmation hearing when 2 former Homeland Security Directors represented her and recommended her for the appointment saying that she was more qualified than they were and well-suited to do the job by all means. As I understand it, she was only at the trust for a little over a year while this was going on... before that she was working in preparedness which is a main component of Emergency Management. Boy if it wasn't for watching council hearings, I guess there would be no news to watch period. It's going to be an interesting Christmas for sure.

    In closing, DC is such a small place.... I've come to realize it's hard NOT to do business with anyone you don't know. We'll always find a way to piece something together... drama reporting at it's finest. Thanks LL

  • Amaxophobia

    And to add.. public records show this lady (west) reduced her salary by 100K because the previous director Greg something or another was making over 250K a year. The Trust is a non-profit that is primarily funded by city dollars. With one reducing his/her salary, does THAT sound like the actions of someone who is attempting to abuse the system? And for those that complain about city official making over 100K a year, get over it.. get a degree and get a life.

    But still.. it's ALL legal. Love it or hate it.

  • Truth Hurts

    Thank you, Mr. West. Sweet dreams.

  • Simply Stated

    @Sally - as I understand it, the woman wasn't giving money away to politicians. Politicians gave money away to politicians through the earmark process. The Trust was just doing what was legislated for them to do.

    Also, is it too far-fetched to think that West might have actually worked really hard and that she earned the opportunity to get promoted?

  • Truth Hurts

    And once again, sweet dreams to all of the West family.

    Btw, don't know Ms. West nor much about her. But the family seems to protest too much.

  • seDCdude

    truth Hurts and sally

    you 2 clowns are some straight bitches!!!

    RACIST dumb summammabitches!

  • Amaxophobia

    @Truth Hurts

    Wow. I could be HJT cousin for all you know. You can look through my posts on numerous articles and see who and who I don't endorse or "co-sign" on. I defended KB once so I guess that makes me his girlfriend too.

    This whole HTJ thing has been blown up by the media because we love drama... we can't live without it. He's not going to get convicted of anything and will probably get a slap on the wrist for bad bookkeeping.

    *picks coffee cup back up

  • drez

    Simply stated-
    The earmarked funds were not used consistent with the intent of the earmark. They were siphoned off and funneled back the the earmark's legislative sponsor- HTJ- through what amounts to a shell corporation and a complicit non-profit, which was headed by Ms West.
    Doth protest too much indeed.

  • KarenNW

    So how does earmarks work? Do tell this as a delicate one!

  • Progentrification

    Bad bookkeeping? Oh, I'm sorry, I accidentally put that $300,000 that was supposed to be spent on youth sports into my personal bank account and bought an SUV. OOPS!.

    Who hasn't accidentally stolen tax dollars intended to help kids?

    This city's run like a third-world country. Time for new leadership across the board.

  • Terry Miller

    The Children's Youth Investment Trust was a good idea but d it has a structure that can easily be abused. I think if the FBI looks closely at some of the grantees, including Ron Moten and the Peaceaholics, they will find that the money was basically a big slush fund, with no real accountability. I heard a kid testify at Council hearing that Ron Moten could be counted on to pay kids' cell phone bills when they ran short. The question is, what it Ron's money or was it from the grant. I doubt that anybody knows, at that is the problem with the Children Youth Inestment Trust.

  • Crash

    That was the sound of another career coming to an end.

  • Ward 6 Voter

    Employees of DC Vote have found that the antics of Mayor Gray, Council Chair Brown and Councilmembers Graham, Brown, Thomas and the ever present Barry have made their job almost impossible in securing DC voting rights. With friends like these fools DC needs no external enemies.

  • Calvin H. Gurley

    Amaxophobia is close to the mark. Councilmember Thomas did not invent this practice of funneling money.

    Just like the media is twisting your and “new comers to the District” minds about CFO Gandhi and the Harriet Waters Tax & Revenue Scandal. The Tax & Revenue scandal investigation revealed that the stolen money went as far back to 10 to 15 years without being detected. Harriett Waters was a low-end staffer during that time [beginning of the 15 year period] before she rose into position to operate in her management role that afforded her the controls that her prior thief/manager schooled her about.

    That means, the prior managers[of Harriet Water’s job] who used the same system that Harriett Waters got caught with – got away with millions during those first 10 years at the Tax & Revenue Office!

    Likewise, we forget Councilmember Tommy Wells…doing the same Harry Thomas routine.

    I give credit to the 2 blogger whose entry I am repeating in this discussion.

    Part I
    During the 3+ years of construction on H St for the streetcar, Tommy Wells gave Joe Englert almost 500K to help his businesses and a few of his friends businesses on H St. It's been reported in City Paper that Englert owns about 7 or 8 bars, restaurants and clubs just on H St.

    Englert received the taxpayers' subsidies (in 2008, 09 & 10) via his fake non-profit-- H St Cooperative-- which he and two Atlas Theater employees founded just 3 months prior to receiving Wells' earmarks. The press release also report that one of the founders was a member of Wells' 2010 re-election committee and their so-called non-profit, H St Coop, was “Not in Good Standing” with the Government of the District of Columbia.

    Part II
    Wells earmarked and lobbied for H Street Cooperative to be handed $428,000 in non-competitive grants during his first term as the Ward 6 councilman. Jennifer (Jen) DeMayo, a co-founder of H Street Cooperative, grant signee and a direct beneficiary, was a member of Wells’ 2010 re-election committee, according to Wells’ official blog.
    The other founders of the non-profit cooperative include another Atlas Theater employee, Patrick Stewart, and entrepreneur Joe Englert, who, according to the, Washington Business Journal owns eight after-hours establishments in Wells’ ward on the H Street NE corridor.
    The FOIA disclosed that H Street Cooperative was incorporated as a non-profit only four months prior to receiving its first $190,600 of multi-year grants from DDOT via Wells. DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ (DCRA) records indicate that H Street Cooperative never filed any of the required business reports and was “Not in Good Standing” with the District of Columbia when awarded the grants.
    Is the Washington Post and Examiner only going after Harry Thomas and refuse to use the same repeated in your face, in your mind daily barrage of pressure to have Tommy Wells indicted by the D.C. prosecutor’?

    Tommy Wells did not buy an Audi SUV. However, did Tommy Wells receive some financial gift from Patrick Stewart or Joe Englert? I guess the FBI and the IRS have to do an inventory of Tommy Wells’ house to find that answer.

    Wake up Trusting Citizens.
    Keep the Council that you have; or just fire all of them. Your Choice.

    Calvin GURLEY
    your next WARD 4 Councilmember

  • DLD

    @Sally - You have obviously asked the right question.
    @Amaxophobia - Far too often you are on these boards running to Ms West's defense. It has been noted.
    @Everyone else- Somebody really needs to dig into her relationships with people who keep GIVING her jobs managing large amounts f money. In addition dig into her relationships with the former Homeland security directors who would stand at her confirmation hearings and vouch for her when this was clearly handed to her as a patronage job. I guarantee there is some juicy stuff there.