(WJLA) - It was a night of music and celebration following the inauguration of President Obama in 2009. But according to federal prosecutors, the former director of D.C.’s Committee of Parks and Recreation, Neil Rodgers, helped pay for the party with $110,000 in grants meant for youth and drug prevention.
"This is really hurtful to the citizens," said Kathy Henderson with the D.C. Advisory Neighborhood Commission. Henders knows Neil Rodgers, and added: "Neil is likable, he can be funny. We've worked with him over the years. It's really sad to see that he is involved in this. Really disheartening"
Rodgers, a top aide to former D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Jr., is the latest public official tied to Thomas’ criminal activities.
Thomas plead guilty two years ago to using more than $350,000 in taxpayer money for personal vacations, clothing, and cars. Six other associates have also plead guilty since, and now Rogers, who is 61 years old, is now facing three felony charges for these crimes related to the Inaugural Ball.
"I can't really say I'm surprised," said Aaron Brown, a resident of D.C.’s Ward 5. He was once represented by Thomas, and says Rodgers’ indictment is indicative of greater corruption at City Hall.
"No one really wants to address it seriously and the people who have the power to address it seriously don't want to...and you trust them," he said.