WASHINGTON – FBI and IRS agents Friday searched the home of D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., who has been accused of misusing city grants and charitable donations.
Federal authorities have been investigating Thomas at least since June, when the District attorney general filed a lawsuit accusing him of spending more than $300,000 in city funds on a luxury SUV, vacations and other personal expenses.
Thomas, a Ward 5 Democrat, has agreed to pay the money back but has not admitted wrongdoing.
Agents searched Thomas’ home in Northeast and placed items in boxes. A red motorcycle with yellow racing stripes and a Chevy Tahoe were taken from the home
Meanwhile, there was no FBI activity at Thomas’ council office at the John A. Wilson Building in Northwest D.C.
The raid “puts the point that ethics reform is urgent,” says Councilmember Muriel Bowser.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray released a statement Friday afternoon about the raid.
“”I continue to support the investigation into these allegations so that justice can run its course,” Gray says. “For the sake of the District, I hope the investigation is concluded quickly.”
In July, two councilmembers called for his resignation. David A. Catania and Mary Cheh both said at the time that Thomas’ failure to admit wrongdoing made it “difficult for him to continue to effectively serve the citizens of the District.”
Thomas remained at his home during the search accompanied by his attorney, Fred Cooke. Authorities were not expected to file charges against Thomas on Friday.
“It’s not unexpected that something would happen,” D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans says. “I hope it happens quickly so we can move on.”
Thomas is not the only city official to become entangled with federal authorities or accusations of ethical lapses of late. The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics in July decided to refer allegations regarding current D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown’s 2008 reelection campaign to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for an investigation.
A federal grand jury also is investigating the accusations of former mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown, who says D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray’s mayoral campaign paid him and promised him a job in return for publicly criticizing former Mayor Adrian Fenty. Gray has denied Brown was promised a job.
In June, the former chief of staff to Councilmember Jim Graham was sentenced to eight months in prison for accepting money from a taxicab industry representative seeking favorable legislation. Graham said he rejected bribe money offered as part of an FBI investigation into the scandal.
And last year, the council unanimously voted to censure Marion Barry and send his case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for possible criminal prosecution after the councilmember was accused of giving his former girlfriend a government contract and then accepting a kickback.
The council’s Committee on Government Operations — of which Thomas is a member — is scheduled to hold a hearing Monday related to ethics reform legislation.
“It’s sad that it has reached this point,” Graham says of the raid.
WTOP’s Mark Segraves was tweeting as the scene unfolded today. Follow along below:
WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report. Follow Kristi and