Fourth Defendant to Plead Guilty in Case Involving Former Council Member Harry L. Thomas, Jr.
WASHINGTON—Danita C. Doleman, 46, the president of a non-profit organization, pled guilty today to a charge of filing a false tax return stemming from her participation in a scheme involving former District of Columbia Council member Harry L. Thomas, Jr.
The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen, Jr.; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office; and Eric Hylton, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
Doleman, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a criminal information. The tax charge carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison, as well as a possible fine and an order to make restitution. No sentencing date was set. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the parties have agreed that the applicable range would be a maximum of six months of incarceration and a fine of up to $5,000. As part of the plea agreement, Doleman agreed to cooperate in any criminal investigation or prosecution.
According to a statement of offense signed by Doleman as well as the government, Doleman was the president of Youth Technology Institute (Youth Tech), one of the non-profits used by Thomas in a scheme in which he used more than $350,000 in taxpayers’ money for his own personal benefit. Among other things, she and Youth Tech helped channel more than $100,000 in taxpayers’ money to Thomas and a political organization to pay for an inaugural ball.
Thomas, who earlier pled guilty to theft and tax charges, was sentenced May 3, 2012 to 38 months in prison. As part of his plea agreement, he resigned from office in January 2012 and agreed to make restitution. Two others, leaders of another non-profit, have pled guilty in the case.
“Today’s guilty plea is one more step in our efforts to hold accountable those who collaborated with Harry Thomas, Jr. to divert tax dollars to his own pockets and his pet projects,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Danita Doleman was the head of a non-profit that helped Harry Thomas, Jr. funnel more than $100,000 that was intended for children towards paying expenses for an adult social event. I greatly appreciate the outstanding efforts of the agents and prosecutors who continue to work so hard on this matter.”
“Ms. Doleman knowingly participated in this public corruption scheme by allowing the misuse of taxpayer money for personal benefit,” said Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. “Her guilty plea today demonstrates that those who commit corruption, as well as those who allow it, will be held accountable for their actions.”
“IRS-Criminal Investigation is working vigorously to stop the misuse and abuse of non-profits in promoting or concealing federal crimes,” said IRS Special Agent in Charge Hylton. “The message is clear that those who engage in this type of activity will face stiff criminal penalties.”
According to the statement of offense, Doleman helped Thomas and a political organization use D.C. tax money to recoup their expenses for the 51st State Inaugural Ball, an event at the John A. Wilson Building that took place on January 20, 2009. When Thomas announced plans for the event in December 2008, he stated that he would seek private donations to cover the difference between the event’s cost and admission revenues. Doleman and Youth Tech had no role in planning the event, and she was not even aware that it was taking place.
After the event, Thomas and the political organization had insufficient funds to cover the costs, and he turned to Doleman. Thomas told Doleman that Youth Tech had an opportunity to obtain a grant through a non-profit public-private partnership that provided resources and developed programs to benefit children and youth in the District of Columbia. Thomas said that Youth Tech would get the money, according to the statement of offense, and could keep a portion of it, but that Youth Tech would pass along most of the grant to the political organization.
On or about February 4, 2009, a staff member under Thomas’s supervision submitted false paperwork to the public-private partnership seeking a $110,000 grant to fund a youth-centered inaugural event associated with Youth Tech. In fact, the money was to pay the debts from the 51st State Inaugural Ball. Doleman also signed a grant agreement even though she knew that Youth Tech had played no role in the inaugural event and that it already had occurred.
The public-private partnership issued a $110,000 check to Youth Tech on February 5, 2009. At Thomas’s direction, Doleman wired $104,500 of the grant funds to the political organization. She spent the remaining $5,550 on matters not related to the inaugural ball.
In addition, the statement of offense details Doleman’s involvement with Thomas regarding a sports camp conducted by Youth Tech for District of Columbia youth in the summer of 2009.
Youth Tech submitted a budget request form to the public-private partnership. The form showed a total budget of $39,086, including $13,000 designated for Doleman as salary.
After the program was complete, Doleman sought an additional $5,000 in salary, and she contacted Thomas’ office for help in securing more money from the public-private partnership. On August 8, 2009, at the direction of Thomas and the staff member under his supervision, the public-private partnership issued a $10,000 check to Youth Tech. Doleman then wrote a $5,000 check to an organization controlled by Thomas—as he directed—and she kept the remaining $5,000 as personal income.
The tax charge involves returns filed by Doleman for calendar 2009. Doleman failed to disclose $20,000 in personal income from Youth Tech that year.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director McJunkin, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Hylton commended the work of those who investigated the case for the FBI and IRS-CI.
They also acknowledged the efforts of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan W. Haray, Courtney G. Saleski, Bridget M. Fitzpatrick, Ellen Chubin Epstein, and Matthew Graves of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia; and Trial Attorney Peter Mason of the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, who have prosecuted the case.
Finally, they expressed appreciation to Criminal Investigators Matthew Kutz, Mark Crawford, and Melissa Matthews; Paralegal Specialists Tasha Harris, Diane Hayes, Sarah Reis, Shanna Hays, Lenisse Edloe, and Monica Johnson; former Legal Assistants Jared Forney, Legal Assistant Krishawn Graham, and Litigation Technology Specialist Tracy Van Atta, all of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.