Founder of DC Youth Program Pleads Guilty to Misappropriating Funds

January 13, 2012 9:08 pmBy: 

Marshall D. Banks, the founder of a non-profit organization that operated youth programs in the District of Columbia, pled guilty today to a felony charge stemming from his failure to report and effort to conceal the misappropriation of $392,000 in government grants.

Banks, 71, of Washington, D.C., pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a criminal Information charging him with one count of misprision of a felony (theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds). As part of the plea agreement, Banks agreed to cooperate in any criminal investigation or prosecution.

Today’s plea comes one week after the guilty plea of former District of Columbia Council member Harry L. Thomas, Jr., on charges that also involve the grant money.

A sentencing date has not yet been set. The Honorable John D. Bates scheduled a status hearing for May 25, 2012. The charge carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison, as well as a possible fine and an order to make restitution. 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. Also, as part of the plea agreement, Banks agreed to be jointly and severally liable with others responsible for the crimes for paying $392,000 in restitution to victims of his conduct.

“Public corruption is allowed to flourish when ordinary citizens remain silent in the face of obvious wrongdoing,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen, Jr. “While Harry Thomas lined his pockets with money meant to benefit children, he was unable to do so alone. Marshall Banks stood by while Thomas stole the money and instead of reporting it, actively helped to conceal the fact that grant funds were being funneled back to Thomas. Today’s guilty plea underscores the importance of standing up and speaking out against public officials who are on the take.”

Langston 21

According to a statement of offense signed by the government as well as the defendant, Banks was the founder and director of the Langston in the 21st Century Foundation (Langston 21), a non-profit organization that operated youth activities designed to foster educational advancement, including programs at Langston Golf Course in the District of Columbia.

Through his responsibilities at Langston 21, he worked with James Garvin, a board member for Langston 21 and the general manager of the golf course. The statement of offense says that Thomas, the District of Columbia Council member who represented Ward 5, informed Garvin in 2007 that he wanted to obtain grant funds to conduct activities in the ward. Thomas informed Garvin that Thomas needed a non-profit organization to act as the recipient of the money. Thomas also stated that a portion of the funds could be dedicated to youth programs at Langston Golf Course.

At Thomas’s request, Garvin asked Banks whether Langston 21 would serve as the nonprofit needed by Thomas to receive the grant funds and forward money to Thomas. Banks agreed. Langton 21 then executed a grant agreement for $392,000 with a non-profit publicprivate partnership that got funding from the District government.

Thomas told Garvin that Team Thomas, an organization he controlled, would be a suitable organization to carry out the grant. However, neither Thomas or Team Thomas were mentioned in the agreement with the public-private partnership.

In January, May, October and December of 2008, the public-private partnership issued quarterly grant payments to Langston 21. At or about the time of each check, Thomas directed Garvin or Banks to have Langston 21 issue checks to either Team Thomas or another organization, HLT Development, that Thomas also controlled.

Langston 21 received $392,000 in grant funds from the public-private partnership. From that grant money, Garvin and Banks issued checks to Team Thomas and HLT totaling $306,000.

Banks knew that the documentation used for the grants contained false representations. In addition, Banks knew that no D.C. youth were brought to the Langston golf course by Thomas to participate in grant-related activities. Sometime before October 2008, Banks determined that Thomas was not using the grant funds for their designated purposes. Yet he continued to deposit grant funds into Langton 21’s bank account and then write checks to Team Thomas and HLT with the term “youth sports” or “learning center” on the memo lines. Banks did not report the improprieties to authorities, even though he knew Thomas was using money for his personal benefit, and he helped Thomas conceal his actions.

Thomas, 51, pled guilty on January 6, 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a criminal Information charging him with one count of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and one count of filing a false tax return. As part of the plea agreement, he agreed to submit his resignation from the District of Columbia Council. Thomas is to be sentenced by Judge Bates on May 3, 2012. The investigation is continuing.

Comments

More Top Stories

  • Education Langley Oakton Top Stories Langley, Oakton students featured in “Sleepless in America”

    Langley, Oakton students featured in “Sleepless in America”

    Students from Langley High School and Oakton High School, Superintendent Karen K. Garza, and Fairfax County School Board member Sandy Evans will be featured in “Sleepless in America,” a television show on sleep deprivation produced by the National Geographic Channel, premiering Sunday, November 30, at 8 p.m. The show focuses on the sleep-loss epidemic in the U.S. and explores the health consequences of sleeping too little.  Sleep researchers from the University of Chicago and Oregon Health and Science University are […]

    Read more →
  • Military Top Stories Warner, Kane back toughening Military Lending Act

    Warner, Kane back toughening Military Lending Act

    U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, along with 40 of their Senate colleagues, today sent a letter in support of the Department of Defense’s (DOD) plan to update the Military Lending Act (MLA) and close existing loopholes to better protect servicemembers and their families from abusive financial practices.  The letter, sent to U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, expresses strong support for the proposed new rule to help prevent lenders from charging excessive fees and taking advantage of military […]

    Read more →
  • Top Stories Transportation Wintry mix in store Wednesday as Thanksgiving trips commence

    Wintry mix in store Wednesday as Thanksgiving trips commence

    It couldn’t come at a worse time. The dread Mid-Atlantic wintry mix is closing in on Fairfax and the D.C. area just in time for Wednesday, traditionally one of the busiest travel days of the year, as families and friends reunite for the Thanksgiving holiday. Virginia Department of Transportation crews are preparing for a mix of rain and snow expected across northern Virginia Wednesday. About 400 trucks will be staged throughout Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William and Arlington counties early Wednesday morning […]

    Read more →
  • Military Top Stories NORAD exercises over the Washington area Monday night

    NORAD exercises over the Washington area Monday night

    Russia has been flexing its muscles lately, sending long-range bombers around the globe, from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. While no one is saying there’s any connection, the North American Aerospace Defense Command says it will be conducting exercises over the Washington area between midnight tonight (Monday) and 2 a.m. Tuesday. The exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled, NORAD said in a press advisory, adding that NORAD has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the U.S. […]

    Read more →
  • Consumers Top Stories WaPo to Washington: Drop dead

    WaPo to Washington: Drop dead

    Ever since billionaire Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post, there’s been the expectation that he would come up with a mind-bending digital solution to the enigma the Internet presents to newspapers and other print publications. “Maybe he’ll give every subscriber a Kindle,” one journalist speculated at a local watering hole shortly after Bezos bought the paper in the summer of 2013. It turns out to be just the opposite: Subscribers have to have their own Kindle Fire (the […]

    Read more →
  • Police & Crime Top Stories Vienna Transit police release sketch of carjacking “person of interest”

    Transit police release sketch of carjacking “person of interest”

      Metro Transit Police today released a composite sketch of a person of interest wanted for questioning in acarjacking/kidnapping that occurred on November 12 shortly before 10:30 p.m. at the Vienna Metrorail Station parking lot. The victim reported that a suspect approached her vehicle as she was exiting the Vienna Metrorail Station, displayed a handgun, entered the vehicle and forced her to drive to several establishments in Prince George’s County to withdraw cash and make purchases. The suspect released the victim at the […]

    Read more →
  • Arlington County Government Top Stories Transportation Arlington scraps street cars, Bulova “saddened and disappointed”

    Arlington scraps street cars, Bulova “saddened and disappointed”

    Bowing to growing community opposition, the Arlington County Board of Supervisors is driving a stake through the Columbia Pike and Crystal City streetcar projects, also effectively killing an ambitious program to encourage high-density development in both areas. The action follows the victory of streetcar opponent John Vihstadt to the Arlington board in the recent election. Vihstadt, who has labeled the streetcar project as “financial and operational albatross,” won a special election to the board in April, replacing transit advocate Chris Zimmerman. The […]

    Read more →
  • Police & Crime Top Stories Vienna Transit police investigate carjacking at Vienna Metro

    Transit police investigate carjacking at Vienna Metro

    Metro Transit Police are seeking the public’s assistance to identify a person of interest in a carjacking/kidnapping investigation. At approximately 12:40 a.m. Thursday, Metro Transit Police were notified of a carjacking/kidnapping incident. The victim reported that a suspect approached her vehicle as she was exiting the Vienna Metrorail Station, displayed a handgun, entered the vehicle and forced her to drive to several ATMs to withdraw cash.  The suspect released the victim at the New Carrollton Metrorail Station in Maryland and […]

    Read more →