Harry Thomas Jr. Staffer Indicted in Ball Scheme
Well, that's that. Almost two years after kleptocrat Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. went to prison, his schemes have resulted in one final criminal charge, with former Thomas staffer Neil Rodgers indicted today on counts of theft and fraud.
In 2009, Rodgers allegedly used his position as the director of the D.C. Council's parks committee to steer drug prevention money out of the Department of Parks and Recreation and into the hands of the D.C. Young Democrats. The group needed money to pay back around $100,000 it owed vendors after its "51st State"-themed inaugural ball.
Rodgers moved the money out of DPR and into the Children's Youth Investment Trust Corporation, the indictment alleges. When the CYITC couldn't move the money to the Young Democrats as a grant, Rodgers allegedly found another organization, the Youth Technology Institute, that could take the money. The Youth Technology Institute then wired around $104,500 to the Young Democrats, according to the feds.
Ayawna Webster, Thomas' former chief of staff and the then-head of the Young Democrats, has already pleaded guilty. So have former CYITC boss Millicent West and Youth Tech head Danita Doleman. With Thomas and two other nonprofit operators also filing guilty pleas as well, Rodgers is the first person involved in the case to fight the charges. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Ron Machen declined to say whether Rodgers' indictment was behind Thomas' recent visitto the District.
"Today’s indictment charges Neil Rodgers with stealing tax dollars meant for children to throw a $100,000 black-tie party for adults,” Machen said in a press release. “This prosecution is the final step in our investigation of the criminal activities of former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas, Jr., which has resulted in six guilty pleas. The results of this investigation are a reminder of the grave consequences for government employees and others who knowingly facilitate the illegal actions of corrupt elected officials.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery