Judge to Harry Thomas Jr. Associate: Pay Up!
Of all the reasons not to help one of the District's felonious pols with their schemes—the disgrace, the potential jail time—here's another: you'll get stuck footing the bill.
Consider the fate of Marshall D. Banks, a nonprofit operator who helped sticky-fingered former Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. use his organization as a pass-through for $392,000 worth of city money. Thomas took $306,000, while Banks' group kept $86,000.
The arrangement didn't end well for either of them. Banks pleaded guilty to his role in the operation and settled with the District to pay back the $86,000. Thomas has seven months left on his prison sentence.
So far, Banks and another associate have paid back $56,000. Unluckily for Banks, though, that doesn't begin to cover his tab. As part of his criminal plea deal, he agreed to pay back the whole $392,000 along with Thomas, all without ever telling the feds about his separate settlement with the city. That put him on the hook for the entire amount, plus the $86,000 he had already agreed to pay the District.
Banks, who's having his Social Security payments garnished by the government to pay off the debt, tried to get the $392,000 judgment against him tossed out. But in an opinion issued earlier this week that was first noticed by Legal Times' Zoe Tillman, United States District Judge John D. Bates says that sentencing rules don't allow him to change how much Banks has to pay. That means that if Banks does pay off both the payments imposed by the court and his settlement with the District, the city will have made money off of his arrangement with Thomas.
Thomas, meanwhile, did tell the government about his own civil settlement with the District, and had his criminal fine reduced as a result.
Banks isn't the only Thomas associate to get a tough break after dealing with the former councilmember. Former Thomas staffer Neil Rodgers is fighting charges for his own alleged role in Thomas' pilfering. Rodgers faces 20 years in prison; his old boss received just three.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery