Loose Lips

Harry Thomas Jr. Aide: I’m Not HTJ!

He's back!

LL's heard of terrible bosses, but this is ridiculous. Former Harry Thomas Jr. staffer Neil Rodgers not only lost his D.C. Council job for his alleged involvement in the disgraced ex-councilmember's grant-steering schemes, but now he claims the feds are trying to prosecute him in place of his old boss.

Rodgers, the only person in the sprawling Thomas investigation who fought the charges, faces 20 years in prison for allegedly funneling, at Thomas' direction, anti-drug money to pay off an inauguration party's $100,000 tab.

Thomas, meanwhile, has less than a year left on the three-year prison sentence he received after pleading out on plundering nearly $500,000 worth of city grants intended for at-risk kids. With no Thomas for the feds to take to trial, Rodgers attorney Billy Martin says that his client is getting the worst of the government's frustrations with the sticky-fingered councilmember.

Martin, who's previously represented football player-turned-dog fighter Michael Vick and city credit card-loving former D.C. Housing Finance Agency head Harry Sewell, says that prosecutors have given him a whopping 100,000 pages of evidence, much of it unrelated to the inaugural ball Rodgers allegedly helped illicitly fund. Instead, the documents relate to other funding schemes Rodgers worked on for Thomas but that don't figure into his indictment.

"Through the trial of Mr. Rodgers, the government will attempt to essentially try its case against Harry Thomas," Martin wrote in one legal motion aimed at excluding the other grants from a trial.

Au contraire, say the feds. In their side of the legal battle that's played out over the past two months, they say that introducing the other bogus grants provides a glimpse into how Rodgers operated. “The proposed evidence is probative of [Rodgers'] knowledge, intent, and modus operandi," prosecutors write in one motion.

While the Jeff Thompson investigation into Mayor Vince Gray's 2010 campaign has featured lower-level players flipping on higher-ups as part of their pleas, Rodgers' case might have the opposite dynamic. Thomas' own plea deal involved cooperating with the government, and he made an unexplained visit to the District two months before the U.S. Attorney's Office charged Rodgers.

Both the U.S. Attorney's Office and Martin declined to comment to LL.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • anon

    is neil rodgers black? just curious.

  • Anne M

    Yes, anon, he is.

  • Karl

    Figures...nothing new here...old news...call me when Jim Graham is in jail.

  • Showlis

    Karl is spot on...nothing new here...old news call us when Jim Graham and Catania are in jail...two of the dirtiest people on the council but oh I forgot, they are Caucasians and the US Attorney is focused on putting people of color in jail.

  • Big Daddy

    Well, 20 years is too much, but he did the deeds -- see the related articles. Probably was an attorney or had some kind of degree and was willing to risk it for because his boss told him too. Needs to be punished or should have taken a deal. Not doing too poorly is he can afford Billy Martin.

  • 20 Years is Not Enough

    If anything, Neil Rodgers deserves more than 20 years. I remember years ago having to deal with him (he always represented himself as the ring-leader of Thomas' office) when working in an agency under Thomas' committee. Rodgers was very open about his participation in dirty politics and he had a pay-to-play mentality that was disgusting. I feel that individuals like him are what add to the overall perception of DC government being corrupt and I am happy that he is finally being punished for his years of foul play. I think what has emerged about him (and Thomas) is only just scratching the surface of all the money they've laundered over the years.

  • Nile rodgers

    Will all this freak out stuff live on after the new mayor?

    Or will it no longer be chic?