Trust Fund on the Hot Seat; Graham Expects 'Quite a Hearing' on Money Tied to Thomas

By Howell, Tom, Jr. | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 23, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Trust Fund on the Hot Seat; Graham Expects 'Quite a Hearing' on Money Tied to Thomas


Howell, Tom, Jr., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Byline: Tom Howell Jr., THE WASHINGTON TIMES

D.C. Council member Jim Graham expects quite a hearing Monday when he dives into the upcoming budget for the Children & Youth Investment Trust Corp., a nonprofit that is feeling the aftershocks of former council member Harry Thomas Jr.'s scheme to steal more than $350,000 in public funds.

The trust was set up in 1999 under former Mayor Anthony A. Williams as a public-private partnership to fund youth programs. Now the organization is in a state of flux as its role as a conduit in the Thomas affair - although likely an unwitting one - is aired in public.

There are some very significant issues, said Mr. Graham, chairman of the Committee on Human Services.

Federal prosecutors said Mr. Thomas, who faces a prison term at his May 3 sentencing, used the trust from 2007 to 2009 to direct funds to organizations of his choosing and pocketed the money.

Earlier this month, the trust's board decided to fire president and CEO Ellen London, about five weeks after Mr. Graham's committee discussed emails that show Ms. London was part of an email loop that outlined how trust officials allowed Mr. Thomas' requests to go forward without the usual vetting.

Ms. London's immediate predecessor, Millicent West, stepped down as director of the city's Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management on Jan. 31 to avoid the distraction caused by events during her tenure at the trust.

Mr. Graham believes Ms. London, who started working at the trust in 2000 and took the reins in November 2009, was ousted because of unspecified material in an upcoming report by his committee that takes a close look at the trust.

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